I am 70 years old and as such have seen many changes in the world and especially in America.
As a child I watched the election returns of Eisenhower and Stevenson in the early 50’s on one of the few black and white TVs in my “mill hill” neighborhood. In the early 60’s as a high school student I watched the live Kennedy/Nixon debates and then the Kennedy assignation on TV. In the early 70’s I watched live TV shots from the moon. As an Army officer in the 80’s on into the late 20th and early 21st century, I marveled at (and still do) the technology we had at our finger tips then. Some of the spinoff of that advancement I used on my IPAD to navigate and stay abreast of the traffic and situation as I approached the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte where his body was in repose.
Just as I have shown example of the drastic technical change since World War II, our nation also has experienced drastic cultural, educational, medical, and many other changes in the same time frame. Billy Graham’s adult life kind of mirrored this post-World War II timeline.
As I entered the library compound where his body lay in state and experienced the atmosphere, the environment, the people, and even the wonderful flower smell throughout the library compound I was hit dead between the eyes with a realization. I realized he had not changed, his message has not changed, and his contribution to the spiritual growth of this nation and our world had changed only in that the more it stayed the same it caused and continued a spiritual growth.
The feeling of the atmosphere and calm yet electrifying environment I felt Tuesday was much the same as I felt as a teenager at a church-sponsored crusade event some 50 to 55 years ago. The people were welcoming and nice. Each helper in the well planned and executed visitation process was nice and genuinely appreciative of the outpouring of people and their respect.
Donna McMurray, a friend and fellow Civitan member went with me. As we and all others exited the house and the casket viewing area Reverend Graham’s grandson, Roy, greeted us and all visitors one on one with a handshake and/or hug. His grandson’s responsive comment to Donna was a simple yet profound statement of fact. Donna had said, “I did not get to meet him I only watched with my grandparents on TV.” The grandson, as he hugged Donna and smiled as he responded confidently, and as resolutely as a promise, said, “you will one day.”
I have no doubt that just as Reverend Graham continues his service to this nation as we unify around his family in his passing she will without a doubt see him there.
Tommy Sinclair is the President of the Union Civitan Club, a retired US Army officer, a retired assistant superintendent with the Union County School District, and a former Union County Supervisor.