Remembering Billy Graham

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1. While his relationship with presidents has differed,  Graham has met personally with a dozen presidents — from Harry S.  Truman to Barack Obama.What also might not be readily known is how much of a reach Graham’s messages have had in the past seven decades. 

2. Graham helped George W. Bush stop drinking. The first time the pair met,  Bush, who was much younger at the time, was drunk after having several  beers and glasses of wine, he told CNN.  His father, George H.W. Bush, invited the preacher to the family's compound in Maine. The pair spoke about religion, which helped start a turning point in Bush's life. 

3. At a Jackson, Mississippi, revival in 1952, Graham  removed the ropes that separated black and white sections of his  audience. When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. rose to prominence,  Graham became a close ally. Aspects of Graham’s home life have been widely circulated. His wife of 64 years, Ruth Bell Graham, died in 2007.

4. Graham was consistently listed on Gallup's poll of the "10 Most Admired  Men in the World." Although he's never been No. 1, Graham has made the  list 61 times since 1955.

5. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In fact, Graham was the 1,000th person to have a star installed in 1989.

6. Other signs of his influence are, perhaps, best  represented by the fact he received an honorary knighthood by Sir  Christopher Meyer at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., in 2001. 

8. He founded the long-running  Christianity Today magazine — one of the most influential publications  in the evangelical sphere. 

9. Shortly after President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn into office in  1963, he invited Billy Graham to the White House. The pair didn't have  bathing suits and reportedly went skinny dipping in the pool. 

10. Graham’s life and legacy are also represented at  the Billy Graham Library, a popular museum in Charlotte, N.C., near his  hometown. The 40,000-square-foot library and museum opened its doors in  2007. 

11. During the Civil Rights era, Graham integrated his revival meetings, inviting both blacks and whites to attend. He said, "Christianity is not a white man's religion, and don't let anybody ever tell you that it's white or black. Christ belongs to all people. He belongs to the whole world."

12.  He became a target of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1960s after planning  an integrated crusade in Birmingham, Ala., in the aftermath of a church  bombing that killed several black children. “The Ku Klux Klan went  around and knocked out our signs,” Billy Graham recalled.  “The state police had to send policemen with us wherever we went —  before my car and after my car. The police were also in the rooms around  me because they were afraid we would get shot.”

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