The HIll -Billy Graham

Jane reflects on Billy Graham in this article for

My life was affected by Graham and Bush both indirectly and directly. Even though my father’s father was an evangelical minister, my father credits a Graham crusade as spurring his personal faith. My father’s faith impacted my own.

Several years later, as a staffer for President George W. Bush, I was evacuated from the White House complex during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Three days later, I found myself still shocked but sitting in the far back side of the National Cathedral. Though I couldn’t see this national memorial service, I could hear the words of Graham and the other clergy who spoke.

We come together today to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious or political background may be. . . . My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and that as we trust in Him we will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us,” Graham said, while wearing a black robe instead of his usual business suit. 

At the end of that profound service as I was trying to leave my row, I got to the aisle only to realize that I couldn’t move because Billy Graham was blocking the aisle at my row. I was so close I could have literally touched the “hem of his garment,” to borrow the Biblical phrase. 

What stood out in that moment was that the other religious leaders who’d spoken at that 9/11 memorial — the rabbi, the imam, and the cardinal — were surrounding the Graham, an evangelical protestant. He was clearly the center of their attention in that private moment.

It struck me that while they shared different doctrine and theology, they respected him. They were united in caring for the hurt and anguish of Americans in the aftermath of Sept. 11.  

My faith meant a lot to me during that time. Similar to Graham’s 9-11 prayer, my mother shared with me Psalm 91:1. “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.”

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