Commemorative Service, Parades Mark Pioneer Day
October 2002

“Commemorative Service, Parades Mark Pioneer Day,” Ensign, Oct. 2002, 77–78

Commemorative Service, Parades Mark Pioneer Day

“There is not another episode in the history of this great land to compare with the movement of the Mormon pioneers from Nauvoo to the valley of the Great Salt Lake,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley, in commemorating the accomplishments and sacrifices of the early pioneers who made their way to Utah in 1847. President Hinckley spoke on Sunday, 21 July, before a full house at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. The program was broadcast live via the Church satellite system throughout the United States and Canada.

Set before a background depicting interior and exterior views of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square preceded President Hinckley’s remarks with a stirring musical program. They performed selections from the reconstructed temple’s dedicatory services, along with two anthems from pioneer times arranged by Mack Wilberg. The program also included narration by Lloyd Newell, reading selected writings of the Prophet Joseph Smith about the Nauvoo Temple.

“From my childhood, I’ve had an appreciation for the pioneers,” President Hinckley said, “and that initial respect has been enhanced tremendously, far beyond my own expectations, by two recent events. The first was the Winter Olympics. … The other event which has left its mark upon me was the recent dedication of the new and beautiful Nauvoo temple.

“Those glorious days in the house of the Lord in the city on the Mississippi stirred within me an overpowering emotion of gratitude for the courage, for the tenacity, for the faith that were of the very fiber of those who lived there and then left in 1846. I sensed in a new and wonderful way the magnitude of the thing they did in building that community and then leaving it.”

President Hinckley went on to recount his invitation to those attending the temple dedication to take a walk down Parley’s Street in Nauvoo and remember the Saints who left so much behind to build a new home in the West.

Of Salt Lake City, President Hinckley said: “Here in this lonely wilderness, those first settlers laid out a city where we live in comfort today. Now this has become a great metropolitan community, where people of many faiths live together with appreciation and respect one for another. Without forsaking our own faith, we can and must respect the faith of others. As I have said repeatedly, we can practice our own religion without offending others. We can be good neighbors, working together to build our community.”

Annual parades were also a part of the 24 July Pioneer Day commemorations in Utah, marking the anniversary of the Latter-day Saint pioneers’ arrival in the valley. President Hinckley was grand marshal of the Days of ’47 parade in downtown Salt Lake City. The parade heralded heroism. Floats sponsored by local stakes and other organizations or businesses throughout the Salt Lake Valley and surrounding communities celebrated the patriotic spirit of the pioneers and modern-day patriots in the wake of the tragedies of 11 September. President Hinckley and his wife, Marjorie, brought spectators to their feet in applause as they rode in a convertible near the head of the parade.

The 2002 Days of ’47 youth parade was held 20 July with some 4,300 children and youth walking the route of several downtown blocks, symbolizing the pioneers’ entry into the Salt Lake Valley.

President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, was grand marshal of the Handcart Days parade in Bountiful, Utah, on 23 July. He and his wife, Frances, waved to thousands of spectators along the parade route.

President Gordon B. Hinckley and his counselors, President Thomas S. Monson, top, and President James E. Faust, right, honored pioneers at a program broadcast from the Conference Center. (Photo by Kelly Larsen.)

President Hinckley, grand marshal of the Days of ’47 parade in Salt Lake City, and his wife, Marjorie, respond to paradegoers. (Photo by Kelly Larsen.)