“President Hinckley Continues to Buoy Up Others,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 103–4
In a schedule that recently included an address to the American Legion, a trip to Eugene, Oregon, and an appearance at a Boy Scout Jamboral, President Gordon B. Hinckley has continued to bear his testimony and share his love for the members and the gospel with as many people as possible.
Address to the American Legion
In a moving, patriotic address, President Hinckley delivered the keynote speech at the American Legion Patriotic Religious Service held on 1 September, during the organization’s national convention in Salt Lake City.
In his remarks, President Hinckley talked of the national motto, “In God We Trust,” which appears on U.S. coins and currency. “I submit that this is the foundation upon which this nation was established,” he told the 6,000 assembled in the Tabernacle on Temple Square, “an unequivocal trust in the power of the Almighty to guide and defend us.”
President Hinckley also spoke of the power of prayer, of the U.S. Constitution, and of the Pledge of Allegiance. He noted that oaths of office and oaths in other legal procedures have often concluded with the phrase “so help me God.” Referring to a newspaper article that reported that New Jersey had passed a law banning the mention of God from state courtroom oaths, President Hinckley said: “Without acknowledgement of Deity, without recognition of the Almighty as the ruling power of this universe, the all-important element of personal and national accountability shrinks and dies. I am satisfied that this is one of the reasons for the great host of social problems with which we deal these days.”
In recognition of those in attendance, President Hinckley thanked the military veterans for what they had done, particularly in times of war, and commended them for the good they continue to do. He noted the American Legion’s support of Boy Scouts in particular.
On 2 September, the day following the religious service, President Hinckley was honored by the American Legion with its “Good Guy” Award for his lifetime contributions. The winner of the award is decided by a national nominating committee; in the past the award has been presented to U.S. presidents, entertainers, and other prominent figures.
“President Hinckley’s many addresses have stirred and inspired youth and adults,” said James McKee, public relations spokesman for the American Legion. “The majesty of his message has stayed in our minds and in our memories as a towering experience of strength and spirituality.”
In accepting the award, President Hinckley again paid tribute to veterans. “May I, as a citizen of the nation and the world which today enjoys relative peace, add my salute and my solemn thanks to all who have served in defense of liberty and peace, and most importantly, to the very many who gave their very lives defending our beloved land,” he said.
Regional Conference at Eugene, Oregon
On 14–15 September, President Hinckley traveled to Eugene, Oregon, where he spoke to approximately 4,600 people at a regional conference, gave instructions during a priesthood training session, and met with 192 full-time missionaries serving in the area.
President Hinckley directed many of his remarks during the conference to the youth. “We have had a commandment laid upon us to train our hands and minds,” he said. “Thank you for your strength. Thank you for your goodness. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your efforts in hanging together, as it were, of going to institute, going to seminary, partaking of the blessings that are to be had there, not only in the teaching of the gospel but in the society in which you can mingle. I want to say to you, look for your friends among members of the Church; band together and strengthen one another. And when the time of temptation comes, you will have someone to lean on to bless you and give you strength when you need it. That is what this Church is for—so that we can help one another in our times of weakness to stand on our feet tall and straight and true and good.”
In his remarks at the four-hour priesthood training session, President Hinckley counseled the 615 leaders in attendance to focus on building the spirituality of the members in the area. He also encouraged them to read about the Prophet Joseph Smith along with reading the Bible and Book of Mormon.
“I urge you to pray, serve others, and reach out and touch other members of your wards,” he said, “particularly the youth. Take time to talk one-on-one with them.”
Brigham Young University Devotional
Speaking to students and faculty filling Brigham Young University’s Marriott Center, President Hinckley urged students to rise above mediocrity. “You are good,” he told the more than 22,000 people attending the 17 September devotional. “But it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence, and the good that is in you must be spread to others. …
“In this world so filled with problems, so constantly threatened by dark and evil challenges, you can and must rise above mediocrity,” he continued. “You can become involved and speak with a strong voice for that which is right.
“You cannot simply sit in your laboratory or your library and let the world drift along in its aimless way. It needs your strength, your courage, your voice in speaking up for those values which can save it.”
President Hinckley called on each individual to “become a leader in speaking up in behalf of those causes which make our civilization shine and which give comfort and peace to our lives. You can be a leader. You must be a leader, as a member of this Church, in those causes for which the Church stands. … The adversary of all truth would put into your heart a reluctance to make an effort. Cast that fear aside and be valiant in the cause of truth and righteousness and faith. If you now decide that this will become the pattern of your life, you will not have to make that decision again.”
If BYU is to meet its purpose, President Hinckley noted, “you must leave here not alone with secular knowledge, but even more importantly, with a spiritual and moral foundation that will find expression to improve the family, the community, the nation, even the world of which you will be a part.”
Ground Breaking for Harold B. Lee Library
On 20 September, President Hinckley donned a hard hat and, along with President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, participated in the ground breaking for the Harold B. Lee Library expansion on the BYU campus.
President Hinckley remarked on the size of the planned 234,000-square-foot expansion, which will house the university’s rare and fragile documents; an expanded family history library; materials for the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences; a 200-seat auditorium; two computer labs with 400 terminals; and four electronically advanced classrooms. Noting that the building would be larger than 10 large stake centers and that it would also cost more than 10 large stake centers, President Hinckley added that construction costs were covered by private donations. “I can’t say enough to those who have opened their hearts and opened their purses to make this possible,” he said.
President Hinckley called the library the “heart of the university” and noted that “a great library is sacred. It represents preservation of the wisdom, learning, and ponderings of all the men and women of all ages.”
President Monson spoke of the building’s namesake during his remarks, calling the facility “a fitting tribute to Harold B. Lee.”
“We could do no less for a man who gave so much,” he continued. “Harold B. Lee was a living book of divine truth, always teaching, always explaining, always living that which he taught. He was a man well acquainted with the Lord, and he was a man for all seasons.”
In his remarks, President Faust talked about Prospero, a Shakespeare character who prized his library above his dukedom. The library “will be one of the treasures of this special, wonderful, and unique university of the Lord,” President Faust observed.
Fireside for Single Adults
In a special fireside for single adults, President Hinckley talked of marriage, divine worth, and service. He also assured those attending the 22 September fireside of his love for them.
Speaking to those who long to be married, he said: “Do not give up hope. And do not give up trying. But do give up being obsessed with it. The chances are that if you forget about it and become anxiously engaged in other activities, the prospects will brighten immeasurably.”
President Hinckley also assured those in attendance that “there is something of divinity in each of you. You are a son or daughter of God, and you have a wonderful inheritance. I hope you will never belittle or demean yourself. Some of you may think that you are not attractive, that you have not talents. Stop wandering around in the wasteland of self-pity.”
The Church leader also urged members to reach out to those “whose problems are more serious than yours.” And he noted that life is challenging and difficult for all people, both single and married. “When all is said and done,” he said, “we should not be classified as married and single, but as members of the Church, each worthy of the same attention and the same care, the same opportunities to be of service.”
Boy Scout Jamboral
Some 28,000 Boy Scouts in Fillmore, Utah, at the Utah Heritage Jamboral heard President Hinckley promise them they could find happiness if they would “do their best” as the Scout Oath urges.
“If every boy in America would adopt that pledge, our prisons would be empty,” President Hinckley observed during his remarks at the 27 September ceremonies of the three-day Utah National Parks Council event. “If you develop the habit of doing your best at all times and in all circumstances, it will bless your lives forever afterwards,” he said.
President Hinckley also shared some of his own Scouting experiences during his remarks, and he paid tribute to the pioneers who came to Utah 150 years ago.