“Never Forget Pioneers, President Hinckley Says,” Ensign, Oct. 2001, 74–75
On Sunday evening, 22 July, President Gordon B. Hinckley addressed a Conference Center crowd of nearly 21,000 in what was called the first annual Pioneer Day Commemoration.
“I proposed that we hold a meeting of this kind to emphasize the spiritual elements of the coming of the pioneers,” said President Hinckley. “We have instituted these services as a feature of our Pioneer Day celebration, lest we lose sight of the hand of God in establishing our people in these valleys of the mountains.”
The hour-long commemoration included the performance of nine pioneer hymns by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square. The program was broadcast on the Internet and to Church meetinghouses in the United States and Canada.
“I take this occasion to plead for a spirit of tolerance and neighborliness, of friendship and love toward those of other faiths,” President Hinckley said. “In the furtherance of this attitude as the years pass, there will likely be an increasing tendency to emphasize this diversity in the 24th of July Parade and associated festivities.
“But I have felt that we must never permit ourselves to lose sight of the great and singular achievements of those who first came to this valley in 1847.” (For the full text of President Hinckley’s talk, see p. 70.)
President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, spoke at a Days of ’47 committee luncheon on 24 July in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. His remarks included praise for Brigham Young, who led the pioneers, he said, with an absolute belief that he was doing the will of God, while expending the energy and effort to accomplish what needed to be done.
Prior to the luncheon, President Faust represented the Church in Salt Lake City’s annual Days of ’47 parade, watched by thousands of spectators. The parade’s theme was “Welcoming Pioneers from All Nations.”
Early on the morning of the 24th, Elder Rex D. Pinegar of the Seventy was the featured speaker at the 55th annual Days of ’47 Sunrise Service in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. “We plainly see about us the fruits of the labors of those who came before us,” he said. “From many countries they came with courage and faith to an unknown, untamed land. With miraculous determination and valor they conquered the desert, created settlements, and contributed everything they had to give to establish a new way of life.”
Elder Pinegar referred to Brigham Young’s bold statement that the Salt Lake Valley “will become the great highway of nations. Kings and emperors and the noble and wise of the earth will visit us here.”
“Those promises were as seeds of hope planted by our faithful ancestors to be harvested in our day as a prophecy fulfilled,” Elder Pinegar said. “We have indeed become a great highway and friend to all nations! This coming year we will welcome the world to our beautiful city that was established as an ensign for all nations (see Isa. 5:26).”
Utah governor Michael Leavitt also spoke of welcoming the world as he offered remarks at the Days of ’47 luncheon, referring to the forthcoming arrival of the Olympic flame to Salt Lake City “as an affirmation and as a tribute to the pioneers who entered this valley.” Governor Leavitt said some 3.6 billion people worldwide will watch the flame come into a modern city that the pioneers settled more than 150 years ago. When the Olympics begin in February 2002, “may we all recognize the affirmation and tribute we will pay to the pioneers,” he said.