“On the Mount of Olives … The Orson Hyde Memorial Gardens,” Ensign, Jan. 1978, 76–78
On 24 October 1841, Elder Orson Hyde of the Council of the Twelve dedicated the land of Palestine for the gathering of the Jews, the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the creation of a Jewish state, and the rearing of a temple. Now, 136 years later, plans have been announced to commemorate that historic occasion with the Orson Hyde Memorial Gardens.
The National Parks Authority of Israel and the city of Jerusalem have made land available to the Orson Hyde Foundation as part of the planned Jerusalem Gardens National Park, which will encompass the historic area around the Old City of Jerusalem. The 5 1/4-acre tract, which the Orson Hyde Foundation will develop with privately donated funds, is the largest single tract of land given to any one group participating in the national park’s development.
The Orson Hyde Memorial Gardens will be established just east of the Old City on the Mount of Olives, above the Valley of Kidron and not far from the road to Jericho. The garden will be designed to harmonize with the overall national park complex, which will be a green belt of more than 600 acres surrounding and protecting the walls of the Old City.
A plaque with excerpts from Orson Hyde’s prayer will be set up. The excerpts will be in Arabic and Hebrew, as well as the original English. Large monuments will not be allowed in the garden, however: instead, native foliage will be carefully cultivated to keep the garden looking natural, with the beauty unique to Palestine.
Once the Orson Hyde Foundation has developed the garden, a task that is expected to take about three years, the government of Israel and the city of Jerusalem have agreed to provide care for 999 years—which seems long enough for the time being!
Elder Orson Hyde, for thirty years president of the Council of the Twelve, was a man worthy of such a memorial. Besides his historic mission to the Holy Land, Elder Hyde was one of the first missionaries sent to Europe; and when the Church moved to the Rocky Mountains in 1847, Elder Hyde helped not only in the building of the “Great Basin kingdom,” but also led several other missions to various parts of the world. An intellectual giant, his great mind seized on the ideas of the gospel and sought to understand every detail—and he not only memorized great portions of the Bible in English, he memorized them in German and Hebrew, too!
Orson Hyde White, a descendant of Elder Orson Hyde, is the chairman of the board of trustees of the Orson Hyde Foundation, and Elder LeGrand Richards of the Council of the Twelve, long known for his intense interest in the House of Israel, is president and trustee. Other trustees are Sherman C. Young, vice-president, Virginia Woolley Quealy, secretary, Taylor Hyde Merrill, treasurer, and O. Wendell Hyde, Jr., and Marjory Hyde Eldredge, trustees.
“Latter-day Saints should be aware that this program … has the approval and support of the First Presidency,” said Elder LeGrand Richards in an open letter to all interested persons. “We must raise one million dollars to take advantage of this long awaited opportunity.”
In his letter, Elder Richards emphasized his long interest in Jerusalem, and that city’s importance to three great world religious movements: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. “If you feel as I do about our responsibility to Jerusalem and her people, please join us in raising funds for this monument, park and amphitheater.”
For further information about the Orson Hyde Memorial Gardens, write to Orson Hyde Foundation, LeGrand Richards, President, 47 East South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150. Contributions, which are tax deductible, can also be sent to that address; a return address is necessary so a special commemorative certificate can be sent to all contributors.