A true warrior for God, Rev. Graham follows the previous selections of NFL and real-life warrior Pat Tillman in 2004 and culture warrior Bill O’Reilly in 2005.
For the current year honor, Graham was selected over recently deceased former President Gerald Ford and former UN Ambassador John Bolton.
In a year that showed sharp division in American politics and increased division in American society overall, and a continued worldwide increase in violence and movements away from such basic societal standards as self-respect, self-control, principled morality, and consideration for others, Mr. Graham wound down his public life, one that was almost always the model for such standards and behavior.
Mr. Graham was born as Franklin Graham Jr. in November of 1918, four days before the end of World War I, and was raised on a dairy farm in North Carolina. His was the typical life of a young man during the Great Depression, and he passed his time reading on a wide variety of subjects until at the age of 16 he went to see a traveling evangelist at a revival meeting in his hometown of Charlotte.
In 1939, Mr. Graham was ordained in the Southern Baptist Convention. He studied at what is now Trinity College, and graduated in 1943 from Wheaton College in Illinois, where he met and married his wife and lifelong partner Ruth McCue Bell, herself the daughter of a missionary surgeon.
The Graham’s would go on to raise a family of three daughters and two sons. Mr. Graham pastored the First Baptist Church in Western Springs, Illinois and ministered to youth and servicemen during and in the immediate aftermath of World War II.
In 1949, Mr. Graham launched his first major “crusade” in Los Angeles, and his fiery oratory style and his perceived integrity and sincerity drew huge crowds.