It has been quite a day in Charlotte as three former Presidents have visited our fine city to help dedicate the new Billy Graham Library.
Our NBC affiliate in Charlotte, WCNC-TV, was live-blogging the event. Here are some highlights.
Former President Clinton said “Billy Graham has known me since 1985, but I have known him for nearly 50 years,” saying he attended Graham crusades as a young man in Arkansas.
“I have seen, firsthand, his kindness,” Clinton said. Clinton talked about Graham preaching a crusade in his hometown of Little Rock, Ark., while Clinton’s church pastor was dying. Billy Graham went to the pastor’s home to minister.
“I listened to them talk about life, and afterlife. It was a conversation that will stay with me until the day I die,” Clinton said. “He didn’t have to do that… he did it because of who he is.”
Former President George H.W. Bush, who Franklin Graham described as a “close friend” of his father’s, took the stage to deliver the dedicatory address. He described Graham as “America’s pastor” and a “man who has comforted four generations of my family.”
Bush also talked about when Graham spent the night at the White House as Desert Storm was being launched, during what was “the hardest decision I had to make as president.”
Bush became tearful when talking about Graham’s influence, saying he “is a spiritual gift to all of us.”
Billy Graham took the stage. “I feel as though I’ve been attending my own funeral,” Graham joked. “I feel terribly small and humbled by it all.”
Graham talked about missing his wife Ruth, who has been bedridden for the past six months.
“Today I want to honor her, and tell you how much I love her, and tell her what a wonderful woman she has been… More than me, she deserves to be here today,” he said.
Reverend Graham has been an honest and true American spiritual leader — untouched by the trappings and temptations of power that have led other preachers down a personally sinful path, or a path of political religiousness. Billy Graham has always stayed true to his country and to his God’s teachings.
I cannot wait to visit the Billy Graham Library when it opens to the public next week.