Snowy-haired and silent, Billy Graham probably couldn't hear the cascading applause that greeted his Tuesday night entrance in a wheelchair.
Surrounded by hundreds of donors, family members and friends, the 91-year-old evangelist - his hearing nearly gone, his eyesight fading - had come home to Charlotte to help celebrate the reopening of the library bearing his name.
It was his first public appearance in Charlotte since May 2007, when three former presidents - Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush - joined him in dedicating the barn-shaped Billy Graham Library, which traces his trek from son of a dairy farmer in Charlotte to preacher to presidents and millions around the world. About 288,000 people have visited the library.
At the dinner Tuesday night, Graham thanked everyone, said a prayer and spoke about how memories of his Charlotte childhood are still with him: "I still dream about milking cows," he said to laughter from the crowd. "The other night I woke up and I was milking cows!"
Closed since January for upgrades and additions - including "The Cross," a massive new mural by artist Thomas Kinkade - the library off Billy Graham Parkway will reopen to the public today.