CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Well-wishers lined freeway overpasses and small-town streets to honor the late Rev. Billy Graham as his motorcade crossed his beloved home state of North Carolina for four hours Saturday from his mountain chapel to namesake library in the state's largest city.
Adults and children stood behind wooden barricades and yellow tape, police officers saluted, and admirers captured the moment on cellphones along the route.
Franklin Graham said he was fulfilling a promise to take his father's body to Charlotte. He said he was overwhelmed by the “outpouring of love we are seeing as we travel.”
The motorcade for “America's Pastor,” which began at the training center operated by Graham's evangelistic association in Asheville, was a chance for residents in some of the evangelist's favorite places to pay tribute. Graham often shopped or caught trains in Black Mountain. He made his home in the nearby community of Montreat.
Graham, who died Wednesday at his home in North Carolina's mountains at age 99, reached hundreds of millions of listeners around the world with his rallies and his pioneering use of television.
Graham will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday and Thursday, the first time a private citizen has been accorded such recognition since civil rights hero Rosa Parks in 2005.
The funeral will be held in a tent in the main parking lot of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte in tribute to the 1949 Los Angeles tent revivals that propelled him to international fame, family spokesman Mark DeMoss said.
About 2,000 people are expected at the private, invitation-only funeral.