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Op-Ed: Rev. Billy Graham Statue in US Capitol

May 4, 2015
In The News

With all due respect to my friend Susan Ladd, her caricature of the Rev. Billy Graham (“Other choices should be considered for Capitol statue,” April 24) is more divisive than his life or ministry ever was.

To her credit, she highlights some of his many accomplishments, including holding racially integrated events before it was widely accepted and his receiving of the Congressional Gold Medal in 1996.

Yet, Ladd missed his charitable work in some of the most remote regions of the world. It is also a fact that millions of people credit the ministry of Billy Graham for leading them into Christianity.

Ladd stated, “The idea of putting any religious leader of any faith in Statuary Hall is troubling.”

In my opinion, Ladd’s belief that someone should be disqualified for his or her faith is troubling. After all, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist pastor. Should we remove the statues that honor this great man? Of course not!

The article offers a list of worthy candidates, but who can match Graham’s worldwide impact? He was an ambassador of peace in a world torn apart by war. He was a voice of kindness, not condemnation, and he brought faith, hope and love wherever he went and whenever he spoke.

We are all human and rarely pass the persistent and penetrating eye of public scrutiny without incident. There are many “champions” who come and go. However, there are few who finish strong without scandal or ethical issues.

The Rev. Billy Graham has met or counseled with all our presidents since World War II. Twelve to be exact — six Democrats and six Republicans. No one may ever duplicate such a feat or have this kind of impact again.

Graham has been a mountain of a man for more than 60 years, a central figure in our national dialogue and a voice of compassion.

As a U.S. congressman from North Carolina, I fully endorse the effort to add the Rev. Graham to the National Statuary Hall. I would be proud to have him represent our state, and I would be honored to pass under his shadow in the Capitol of the United States.

Mark Walker is a Republican who represents North Carolina’s 6th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.