WASHINGTON, D.C. (WOWK) — On Thursday, July 14, 2022, World War II Medal of Honor Recipient Hershel Woodrow Williams, affectionately known as “Woody,” became the seventh person to lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. He is the first-ever West Virginian to receive this sign of respect.

Williams died on Wednesday, June 29, 2022, at the age of 98. He was the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor Recipient.

Woody Williams lies in honor at the U.S. Capitol Building on July 14, 2022.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Williams joined the United States Marine Corps and served in the Battle of Iwo Jima with the 21st Marines, 3d Marine Division. Williams received the Medal of Honor on October 5, 1945, from President Harry S. Truman for his “actions, commitment to his fellow service members, and heroism,” the Woody Williams Foundation website says.

He was known for being a kind-hearted man, short in stature but big in bravery, who never made anything about himself and lived by the motto, “The Cause is greater than I.”

Six Americans have previously lain in honor at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, while 34 have lain in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Three people have lain in state at the National Statuary Hall.

According to the Architect of the Capitol, “Lying in state” is the terminology used when the person being honored is a government official or military officer, while “lying in honor” is the term used for private citizens.

According to the United States House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives website, those who have lain in honor at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda prior to Williams are:

  • Detective John M. Gibson, Capitol Police Officer, on July 28, 1998:
    • Detective Gibson was one of two fallen Capitol Police officers to lie in honor on July 28, 1998. According to the History, Art & Archives, Gibson and Officer Jacob Chestnut, Jr. were killed in the line of duty when, on July 24, 1998, an armed assailant stormed past a security checkpoint at the U.S. Capitol. The assailant ran toward the suites of Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the then-Majority Whip, according to the website. Gibson was a member of DeLay’s security detail at the time of the incident and told aides to find cover before exchanging gunfire with the suspect. The History, Art & Archives website says although he was mortally wounded, Gibson’s actions helped his fellow officers capture the suspect. Gibson is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
  • Officer Jacob J. Chestnut, Jr., Capitol Police Officer, on July 28, 1998:
    • Officer Chestnut was one of two fallen officers to lie in honor on July 28, 1998. He is also the first Black American to lie in honor. According to the History, Art & Archives, Chestnut and Detective John Gibson were killed in the line of duty when on July 24, 1998, an armed assailant stormed past a security checkpoint at the U.S. Capitol, mortally wounding Chestnut in the initial gunfire exchange. The suspect ran toward the suites of Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the then-Majority Whip, according to the website. There, he exchanged gunfire with Detective Gibson who was also mortally wounded before the suspect was captured. Chestnut is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
  • Rosa Parks, Civil Rights Leader, on October 30 & 31, 2005:
    • Parks is the only woman, and the second Black American, to have lain in honor at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. In 1955, the seamstress became a civil rights pioneer after famously refusing to give up her seat and move to the back of a Montgomery, Alabama bus for a white man. Parks died of natural causes on Oct. 24, 2005, at the age of 92. She is interred in the chapel mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit, Michigan.
  • Billy Graham, Reverend, from Feb. 28 to March 1, 2018:
    • Graham was an evangelist and ordained Southern Baptist minister who became well-known across the world. He was also known for his work in student ministry, support for the Civil Rights Movement, and partnership in the Lausanne Movement. He had personal audiences with many sitting presidents as well as Queen Elizabeth II. Graham died at the age of 99 on Feb. 21, 2018. He is buried in the Prayer Garden of the Billy Gram Library.
  • Officer Brian D. Sicknick, Capitol Police Officer, on Feb 2 & 3, 2021:
    • Officer Sicknick died hours after the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol when a mob stormed the building to stop the process of verifying Joe Biden’s election win. Investigators initially believed Sicknick’s death was connected to being hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, but medical examiners later declared his cause of death as “natural causes.”
  • Officer William F. Evans, Capitol Police Officer, on April 13, 2021:
    • Evans was killed on April 2, 2021, when a vehicle rammed into him and another officer at a barricade approximately 100 yards from the U.S. Capitol. He was an 18-year U.S. Capitol Police veteran. He is the last person to have lain in honor prior to Woody Williams.

For a list of those who have lain in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda and the National Statuary Hall, click here.