11/22/2013 03:13 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Happy 95th Birthday to America's Pastor


Rev. Billy Graham, President Nixon and me; Dad and Rev. Graham

In November I travelled to Asheville, N.C. to help celebrate the 95th birthday of the Reverend Billy Graham. I was very honored to attend this significant event.

In 1976, the President of The United States asked my dad to be the chair of the Bicentennial celebration to be held on July 4 on the National Mall. He was to work with Rev. Graham and Bob Hope to organize and manage this very significant event. This was the first time I had met the Reverend Billy Graham. Through the years, we spent a little time together as he was a frequent guest at our Marriott Hotels. I found him to be easily approachable and always upbeat and enthusiastic about life. He certainly was successful in changing the lives of millions of people by encouraging them to come unto Christ.

At the dinner celebrating his birthday, a 30-minute film was shown. It featured parts of the previous speeches by the Rev. Graham and the story of a young man and young woman whose lives were full of desperation and unhappiness. They came unto Christ because of the message from the Rev. Graham. This film was shown on the Fox News Channel and narrated by the 95-year-old Rev. Billy Graham himself. Many said it was his last sermon, but I think we've heard this before. I think as long as he can speak, he will do his best to help people change their lives.

It has been estimated that over 2 billion people have heard Rev. Graham speak. That's pretty incredible considering most of the speeches were in front of a live audience before the Internet and TV had become such a major part of our lives.

I don't think it's a stretch to say that no one in modern history has changed people's lives for the better as Billy Graham has done. It's been a rare privilege for me to know him just a little bit.

I'm Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

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