From Ken Garfield of Charlotte, in response to “Billy Graham wouldn’t have wanted this” (March 1 Forum):
Let’s examine Sam Roberson’s charge that Billy Graham’s passing has been turned into a spectacle for political or promotional purposes by his son, Franklin, who runs the family business.
A motorcade carried Billy through the countryside from Asheville to Charlotte, allowing thousands of Carolinians to line the highway to show their love for a man who touched their lives. His body lied in state in his boyhood home, allowing thousands more to gather to pay their last respects, and to perhaps reminisce about a long-ago crusade that set them on a new course. His body was flown to Washington, giving politicians at least one morning to put aside their bitter differences in honor of an evangelist who came to embrace a gentle, unifying message. He came back to his hometown for a celebration of his life for 2,000 or so family members, friends and former colleagues, in a giant tent no less to recall his 1949 emergency in Los Angeles.
Then came the quiet, private moment that Sam (and the rest of us) wanted, when the family gathered in private to bury their father beside their mother.
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I think Billy would have approved of this last journey, filled with everyday people and powerful memories. Consider it, in a sense, his last crusade. There’s a lot to criticize Franklin for. This isn’t one of them.
Garfield, formerly the Observer’s religion editor, is director of communications at Myers Park United Methodist Church.