Trump honors 'America's pastor' while he lies in honor at the Capitol

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Rev. Billy Graham's casket has arrived at the U.S. Capitol for a rare salute by the nation's political leaders.

Graham's body arrived at the Capitol Wednesday morning. The public is invited into the Capitol Rotunda from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. He will lie in honor in the Rotunda for one day.

Graham, known as "America's Pastor," is the first private citizen to receive the honor since civil rights hero Rosa Parks in 2005.

Related: More than 12,000 come to see Rev. Billy Graham lie in repose at Graham Library

The Rotunda is where the country pays tribute to its most important and influential citizens, including a dozen former presidents.

Graham died last week at age 99 in his North Carolina home. His funeral will be held Friday in Charlotte.

President Donald Trump says Rev. Billy Graham "changed our country" - paying tribute to the late evangelical preacher as he lies in honor at the U.S. Capitol.

Trump calls the rare tribute afforded Graham "very fitting," saying Graham was a "legendary" American figure who deserved to be recognized in the place "where the memory of the American people is enshrined."

Graham was known as the pastor to presidents, for his personal ties with nearly every American leader over more than a half-century. Trump recalls his father taking him as a child to see Graham preach at Yankee Stadium in 1957, saying his father was a "big fan" of Grahams.

Trump met Graham at the pastor's 95th birthday party in 2013. The president is expected to attend the funeral service in Charlotte on Friday.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says few people loved others as the Rev. Billy Graham did, and few were as beloved as "America's Pastor."

Graham met every president back to Harry Truman and counseled most of them. Ryan says there had been no doubt that Graham would get the honor of a Capitol ceremony because he had influenced the nation's spiritual life.

Graham will lie in honor until Thursday. 

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