Thursday, December 28, 2006

August 9, 1974

President Gerald Ford passed away on December 26, 2006 at the age of 93.

He was President of the United States from August 1974 until January of 1977. Perhaps the most memorable part of his presidency was the day he took office. That day will be seared in my memory forever. I was 16 years old at the time. Here are my memories of that day, and those times:

It was August 9, 1974. It was the summer before my Jr. year of High School. It had just been a little over two years (June 17, 1972) since the Watergate break-in. On this day, the first resignation of a President of the United States would take place.

I was a very politically aware teenager. I tried to stay well informed. I had subscribed to Newsweek starting in about 1971. I still have my prized collection of Watergate related Newsweek magazines. I also read a lot of newspapers, and watched and listened to a lot of news on TV and radio.

On that August day, I was spending the Summer helping my Grandfather with his ranch (where I spent all of my summers as I was growing up.) At the time, my Grandfather was the County Chairman of the Republican Party. I remember that we supported Nixon for a long time, until the evidence against him became too overwhelming to ignore.

Normally on a Summer's day in August, we would be out in the hay fields, baling hay at that time of day. (Noon Eastern Time -- 10:00 AM our time). However, we knew of the great historical moment that was about to take place. It was a sad occasion. We felt let down by President Nixon. We wanted to believe in his innocence until the bitter end.

We came in from the fields to watch President Ford’s Speech. What we heard from the newly sworn-in President Ford was reassuring:
"My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over."
The nightmare of Watergate had begun some two years previously with the Watergate break-in. In the Spring and Summer of 1973, the US Senate created a special "Select" committee to investigate the Watergate break-in, to see if members of the administration were invovled in any way. After months of hearings the single greatest finding of the committe was the discovery of the previously unknown White House taping system.

Up until this time, it was one man's word against another, regarding the facts of the case and the involvement of the president and administration officials. The tapes would be incontrovertible proof of the President's involvement, or lack thereof, in the Watergate break-in, and the subsequent cover-up.

What then ensued was a long series of court battles over whether or not the president would have to turn over the tapes. The president claimed “Executive Privilege”, while prosecutors insisted they had the right to subpoena the tapes as evidence in their investigation.

After more than a year of legal wrangling, On July 24, 1974, the US Supreme Court, voted 8-0 that the president must surrender the tapes – and denied the president's claim to executive privilege.

On July 27-30, 1974 the House Judiciary Committee voted largely upon party lines to Impeach the president on three articles of impeachment:
  • Obstructing the Watergate investigation
  • Misuse of power and violating his oath of office
  • Failure to comply with House subpoenas
Our own Utah Rep. Wayne Owens (D) sat on that committee during his freshman term of congress. He cast his vote to impeach the president. Incidentally, Hillary Clinton, (then Hillary Rodham) was a staff attorney for the House Judiciary committee at the time.

On August 5, 1974 transcripts of 3 taped conversations were released which implicated the president in criminal conduct. The tapes showed that Nixon had obstructed justice by ordering the FBI to stop its investigation of the break-in, and that he directed a cover-up.

After these revelations were made public, even Republican members of the House Judiciary committee said they would change their votes in favor of impeachment.

On August 8, 1974, President Nixon announced his resignation in an nationally televised address.

Then at noon on August 9, 1974 I watched Gerald R. Ford as he was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States.

President Ford went on to say:
"I believe that truth is the glue that holds government together, not only our Government but civilization itself."

I have always remembered that statement.

Truth is the glue that holds families together. If we honor our covenants and remain true to one another our families will be strong.

Truth is the glue that holds communities together. If we are honest, honorable, and obey the law, our communities will be strong.

Clusters of truthful, strong communities make for a strong government and a strong civilization.

On the other hand, lies and deceit cause us to lose faith and trust in one another. When lies and deceit emanate from our government officials, our faith and trust in government is destroyed.

It is arguable if full faith in our government has ever been fully restored since the Watergate Scandal. Now we view our government with more of an eye of skepticism.

As we remember President Ford, we appreciate his integrity and his candor. He helped bring honor, integrity, and decency to the Presidency once more.

Shortly after taking office, President Ford took a great political risk in pardoning Richard Nixon. He was roundly criticized and condemned for this action. Most political experts agree that "The Pardon" was the main reason he was defeated by Jimmy Carter in 1976. Now, looking back we can see that the pardon was the right thing to do. The government had come to a virtual standstill with the scandal and the impeachment hearings. The pardon helped to get the country, and the government to re-focus on the issues at hand, and to move forward. It was time to put Watergate behind us.

President Ford's other policy decisions are open to debate. We may not necessarily agree with everything he did during his 2 1/2 years as president. (Remember the WIN lapel buttons for "Whip Inflation Now!") But he helped to rescue a floundering nation that was caught in a great constitutional crisis. He brought healing and direction to us once more.

In his speech to the nation, on that fateful day, he made the following promise to the nation:
"I now solemnly reaffirm my promise I made to you last December 6: to uphold the Constitution, to do what is right as God gives me to see the right, and to do the very best I can f or America.

God helping me, I will not let you down."
He was a man of his word. He did not let us down. Thanks for your service to our nation in a time of great need.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Safe In The Care of the Shepherd

The following is my Christmas Message to you this year. It is based on a talk I gave last Sunday in church.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and I hope you have a wonderful New Year.

In the outskirts of Jerusalem, shepherds gathered their sheep in for the night. The bleating lambs had found their way to their mothers. All was quiet for the night. The dews of the night were beginning to distill upon the ground. The stars in the sky shown bright in the heavens above. All seemed well, all seemed quiet for the night. The sheep were safe, under the watchful care of their shepherd.

Perhaps in the stillness, a shepherd or two had cast their eyes up into the heavens above. There they saw the majesty of night sky, and wondered at the vastness of God’s creations. They may have felt a little small and insignificant, compared to the immensity of the universe, and the endlessness of the works of His hands.

While gazing upon the night sky, they may have noticed a light appearing in skies above them, which continued to increase in brightness and glory until all of the shepherds cast upward their eyes, with awe and wonder at what they beheld.

Suddenly, within the light, a personage appeared before them, standing above them in the air. The angel wore a robe of the most exquisite whiteness, whiter than anything they had ever before seen. Not only was the robe exceedingly white, but the whole person of the angel was glorious and bright beyond description. The skies surrounding the angel were incredibly glorious, but not as bright as immediately around the angel. When the shepherds first looked upon him, they were afraid; but soon, the fear left them. (See Joseph Smith – History 1:30-33)

Then came the joyous announcement the angel had come to give:
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (See Luke 2:10-11)
The breathtaken shepherds hardly had time to take in this message, let alone ponder its deep and eternal meaning, when a yet another miracle appeared:
And suddenly there was . . . a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and singing, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (See Luke 2:13-14)
Numberless concourses of angels sang from the heavens that night. The joy of the hosts of heaven was so great that they could not be kept from within the veil. For on that night the salvation of the Lord was at hand. Perhaps we, too, were among that heavenly host, singing with great joy and exultation. The very key of the plan of Salvation was about to be born upon the earth. The bonds of death and hell were about to be broken forever! The prisoners were soon to be free!

After a time, the heavenly hosts, and the angel that greeted them returned back into the heavens from whence they came. The brightness and glory that had overshadowed them, now gradually faded away. Once more, the night had returned to its usual still and still quiet state.

At first, the shepherds must have remained in a stunned silence. What were these miracles they had just beheld? They had never seen anything like it. Perhaps no one in the history of the world had ever seen anything like it. Yet it was to these humble shepherds that these miracles were made manifest. We know that faith precedes the miracle. And these shepherds must have been possessed of great faith. Faith such that they were privileged to hear the angles sing.

There was a greater miracle still, that they would yet behold that glorious night.

The angel had promised the shepherds that they could see the baby Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger. Quickly, and with haste, the shepherds went to that humble stall, where there lie the newborn Son of God -- even Jesus Christ.

Before them was the promised Messiah. The Savior of the World. Born of a virgin, to save the world one day. The Master and Creator of the heavens and the earth lie before them in that manger. Yet, in a few short years, the He would accomplish His mission. He took upon himself the sins of the world. He paid the price for each one of us, for all of our sins and mistakes. But this was not all.
And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

. . . The Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance. (See Alma 7:10-13)
Not only did he pay for our sins, but he took upon himself our pains and sicknesses, and our infirmities of every kind; whether they be mental, physical, or spiritual. And then, after all this, he suffered death for us, and took up his life again. That through him we might have eternal life.

Christ reaches out to every one of us. Hear His words:
Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?

Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me. (See 3 Nephi 9:13-14)
So if you feel weighed down by the pressures and anxieties of life. If your heart is not right with the Lord. If the burdens you carry seem hard to bear – Come unto Him. For he has said: “Come unto me all ye that labor, and I will give you rest.” Draw near to the Lord, for he will draw near unto you. He will send you His Spirit, and you will be strengthened and comforted. Repent and come unto him, and he will lift your burdens and grant unto you a newness of life. A new life filled with light and truth and love. A new life filled with purpose and meaning. A new life filled with faith and hope and joy.

Just as miracles happened that night long ago to the Shepherds of the field, so too can miracles happen in our own lives. Lives that were once bruised and broken can be healed and made whole. And one day we too may be privileged, like them, to behold the Savior of the world, and to kneel before him with wonder and awe -- and worhsip Him.

I testify to you that Christ did come into the world. He was the promised Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. He shared with us the Good News of his gospel. He suffered for our sins, and died for us all.

Not only did he die for us all, but he died for you, and he died for me. He knows each one of us personally. He knows our names. He knows our hearts. He knows our lives and our woes. None of us is too small nor too insignificant for his watchful eye. He loves each us with a love that cannot fail, and will not end. He will never forget us, nor abandon us.

He is always there--


Waiting for us to come unto Him.

Waiting for us to choose eternal life, through Him.

If we only will.

Reach out to him. Open the door unto him. Let him into your life. Let him heal you.

That you and I -- like those sheep on that holy night so long ago -- may find safety in the arms of The Shepherd.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Military Honors For Scott Lundell

The Military has their own way of honoring their fallen comrades. The Utah National Guard had their own memorial service for 2Lt Scott Lundell which was held in Afghanistan for those who had served with him there.

Governor John Huntsman (Governor of Utah) happened to be on a State Visit to Afghanistan shortly after Scott was killed. The Governor attended and spoke at the memorial service there with Lt Lundell's comrades in arms. You can read an account of the memorial service here.

Also, my sister, Jeannette, e-mailed me an essay written by Captain Paul Faletto, who escorted Lt. Lundell's body from Philadelphia to Salt Lake City to return his body to his family. It is a very touching and moving story. It is amazing how much honor and attention to detail the military attends to for the fallen among them.

Capt. Paul Faletto, who teaches Military Science at Weber State University. He also has commanded special forces groups in Bosnia and Afghanistan. Scott Lundell had previously served in a unit with Capt. Faletto.

Capt. Faletto's account is titled, "A Utah Warrior's Last Steps Home ". You can read it here.

Also, I have learned of a similar story of a Sailor who escorted one of his fallen comrades home to Longmont, Colorado.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Utah Warrior's Last Steps Home

Written by Captain Paul Falletto, Utah National Guard

Last Monday I received a call from the Mortuary Affairs Office. I would have rather have been called by the IRS scheduling an audit for the past 20 years.

A Second Lieutenant had been killed in Afghanistan and we were to send a person to escort him home to his family and final resting place. This time it was not a stranger, it was a young officer whom I knew.

2LT Scott Lundell was a new officer in my previous unit. He was on his way to earning a Green Beret. He had heard the sounds of the guns after 9-11 and instinctively this warrior's heart lead him to move towards those who were in danger. He put aside his personal aspirations of earning his Special Forces tab and volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan to train the Afghani Army.

His patrol was ambushed by vastly superior numbers. Undeterred, 2LT Lundell moved to counterattack. 2LT Lundell was always a natural leader. From serving as Student Body President, to serving his church on a foreign mission, to the battlefields of Afghanistan, 2LT Lundell always was a leader. His heroic actions saved many lives, yet cost him his own on that day.

I flew to Philadelphia on Thursday. It was my mission to escort and guard this father, soldier, warrior, and hero on his final journey home. It was a mission that I wished I had not offered, but accepted with honor.

The phone rang at 0200. Wake up call, 45 minutes to shine my shoes, shower, shave, and put on my Dress Blues before my ride to Dover AFB arrived. The standard uniform for this assignment is the Army Class "A", but our commander ordered all members of the honor detail to wear the uniform reserved for our most reserved occasions.

Sergeant Parsons greeted me as we entered Dover's Mortuary Affairs center. There were two other's from the Army who were there to escort soldiers home and one Marine with the same assignment. We were lead into a small conference room and began our briefing of our duties and sequence of events.

On the table in front of me sat a stack of cases holding the awards 2LT Lundell had earned. Purple Heart, Bronze Star, combat Action Badge, Paratrooper's Wings.... and a small, black, velvet bag with the words, "United States of America" across the front.

I was instructed to open the green folder on my table and remove the top form. I then to opened the black bag and began to inventory the immediate personal effects of 2LT Lundell. Out of nowhere, somebody hit me in the stomach with a baseball bat. I felt sick. I could feel the fever coming on, I could feel the sweat begin to bead on my head, and my hands began to shake. This was now very real and very personal.

My unsteady hands removed his watch, his dog tags, a challenge coin he had received from the 3rd Special Forces, and finally a gold wedding band. Through watery eyes I checked off each of these items on the form. I noticed Scott had a small plastic tag on his dog tag chain. I saw the familiar words emblazoned from the Special Operations Memorial in Arlington. It was the scripture from Isaiah 6:8:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

At 0500 I boarded a special van with 2LT Lundell and we drove to Philadelphia. We arrived at the Delta cargo terminal. The driver & I unloaded 2LT Lundell and entered the office to complete his paperwork to travel home. Once we had his affairs in order, the driver took me to the passenger terminal.

I entered the bustling crowd of people all trying to fly to various destinations and began looking for the entrance to check in. I'm not sure if it was my emotionally dazed look or full dress uniform that caught the eye of the Delta agent named Michelle. She quickly pulled me aside and asked if I was escorting. I told her that I was and she took me aside and checked me in for my flight.

She upgraded my seat to first class, told me my departure gate, instructed me to use the far left lane of the security screening, and then took my and thanked me. She told me she would come to the gate and help me get to the tarmac to pick up 2LT Lundell.

I walked to the far left side of the TSA screening and stood in line. Regulations require I remain in uniform, but the TSA could ask me to remove my jacket and shoes. I was told they may have a private area where I could remove my jacket and shoes, but did not see any place where this could transpire. An agent from TSA quickly noticed me and asked if I was escorting and I nodded. He opened the line and led me to a lane that was even further to the left.

The TSA agents x-rayed my carry on bag and were able to conduct their security search while allowing me to maintain my professional duties.The agent shook my hand and thanked me. It was painfully obvious to me that this was something they had done many times, yet they really went to lengths to make me feel comfortable.

Michelle met me at the gate and introduced me to Dan who would take me down to the tarmac. The crew arrived shortly thereafter. The pilot came and shook my hand and told me if I needed anything to let him know.

He asked if he could have the other passenger remain seated to allow me to deplane first. I told him it would be very helpful if he could and that it would save time because offloading 2LT Lundell is the first thing the baggage handlers would do.

Dan led me down the stairs and I inspected the cardboard shipping container that protected 2LT Lundell's wooden coffin. There was not doubt it was him. The formality of checking his name and the condition were part of my duties.

I knew it was him. 2LT Lundell was a man larger than life itself. He required an extra large coffin. It was large enough to hold his body, but not the character of his spirit nor the love he gave and received.

The baggage handlers were most professional, but unprepared for such a man. Two of them tried to lift the end of this giant. It took another handler and me to place the 500+ pounds onto the conveyor to load 2LT Lundell into the hold of the 757. Once on the conveyor, I stepped back and rendered a salute as I watched him load into the plane.

I boarded the plane and sat down. The flight was completely full, yet I felt totally alone. I suppose it takes a couple hours to fly from Philadelphia to Atlanta, but time for me was a cloud. I heard the pilot ask the other passengers to allow me to depart the plane first and the flight attendants reminded them of this as we landed.

As we approached the gate I saw an Honor Guard formed by the baggage handlers. I had never seen nor heard of anything like this. I was stunned that the airline would go to such lengths for a fallen soldier. They stood at attention holding the flags of the United States of America, the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force.

The plane came to a rest and I stood. Not a single person moved.

Every passenger paid tribute to a man that made it possible for them to fly safely that day. As I exited the aircraft I was immediately greeted by a Delta baggage handler who told me he was a former Marine. He explained that the employees who were veterans received special permission from the Department of Defense to form an Honor Guard so they may honor all of the fallen soldiers as they transport them home. He
asked if I would participate in their ceremony and in a prayer with them.

We marched to the conveyor and 2LT Lundell was brought to us. We presented arms as he came down and then the Marine gave a short prayer. We prayed for Scott, for his family, for me, and for the Lord's protection for all who place themselves in harm's way to defend our freedom. It took every ounce of my strength to maintain my composure as I thanked each of them for what they did that day, for their service to
our nation, and for the ceremonies they will render for the heroes that will pass by them in the future. They gave me the short program and the prayer and asked me to give it to his wife. Each man had signed it: Fred Cadwell, James Davis, William Stearns, and Juan Farmer. I wished I had copied the prayer. A few short words, uttered in front of a few men, but heard by God.

2LT Lundell was placed on a special cart. Painted dark blue with the emblems of all branches of the military and these words, "All gave some, some gave all." "Delta vets honoring our own." We were taken to the employee lounge while we waited for our flight to SLC.

When the plane was inbound, we were taken to the gate. The driver parked the cart so nobody would see the precious cargo it carried. He took me upstairs so I could check in. The agent arrived and I asked her if it was possible to move me closer to the door. She said her computer was not up yet, but she would see what she could do. I stood watching the cart through the window. I doubted anybody would notice that one of the baggage carts was very different.

The pilot arrived and immediately walked over to me. He was a former officer in the USAF and his son flies F-15's out of Mountain Home Idaho. He also offered me any assistance he could provide. I told him how touched I had been with everything Delta had done. We shook hands and he went to go conduct his pre-flight checks.

The crowd around the agent at the desk was gone so I walked over to see if she was able to move me closer to the door. She handed me a boarding pass that put me at the back of first class nearest to the door. I thanked her and went back to watching 2LT Lundell. The baggage handlers came to move him to prepare to load. The gate agent opened the door and I went down to his cart.

I told the baggage handlers that they needed to get more people. So they brought two more men over. The pilot stopped what he was doing and came to assist as well. The pilot helped us load 2LT Lundell and then stood beside me and rendered a salute as he was placed into the hold of the aircraft.

As we flew to SLC, a gentleman tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a unit coin. He said this was from one grunt to another. He was the Commander of Dugway Proving Grounds. He knew why I was in my dress blues and what I was doing. It was a welcomed gesture of support. I felt I was not as alone on this part of the journey.

The pilot announced to the flight that they were bringing one of Utah's native sons home and that I was escorting him. He asked if everyone would allow me to please exit first. As we taxied to the gate the flight attendants repeated the request and said how privileged they felt to be able to do so and that they wished to thank all those who serve and have served our country.

Chicago was closed that day due to weather. I heard passengers say how only four flights made it out in the morning. Our plane was full of people who had rerouted to try to make their destinations. I heard several passengers mention they had less than 30 minutes to make their connections. I wondered if they would allow me to move to the door. I did not want to have to ask people to move so I could be first.

My concerns were abolished when the plane stopped. I stood and took a step towards the door. Nobody rose; everyone began to applaud at once. These strangers were bound by a kinship we all shared. We all were part of bringing 2LT Lundell home to Utah.

The first person I saw when I walked down the stair to the tarmac was BG Wilson, the Commander of I Corps. It was his command that 2LT Lundell volunteered to go to war. His eyes looked like mine. We shared in the grief of the responsibility. He returned my salute and gave me pat on the shoulder and thanked me. Behind him I saw 2LT Lundell's best friend from Afghanistan. He is a 1LT who was going through Special Forces training with 2LT Lundell. This 1LT was one of my ROTC students. I counseled with he and 2LT Lundell about this mission prior to their departure.

This 1LT had brought 2LT Lundell from Afghanistan to the USA. They had served together and they were close. 2LT Lundell's wife asked him to bring him home and to come to the funeral.

The Honor Guard now took charge of transporting 2LT Lundell. These were highly professional NCO's who I had worked with before. I was relieved to see them. They took a tremendous weight off of my shoulders.

They entered the cargo hold of the plane and removed the protective cardboard from the casket. They placed the stars of our nation's flag over the left shoulder and ran the stripes down past his feet. They brought him off the pane and placed him on a cart. The cart was escorted by his family, the Honor Guard, and at least six
airport police to a hanger. In the hanger, 2LT Lundell was taken from the cart and placed into the hearse.

After he was placed into the hearse I saw MG Tarbet. It was obvious that this was very personal to him. He looked like this was his own son. His strength and 2LT Lundell's wife's strength was incredible. I've never seen any two people so close to losing a loved one handle it so well.

The ride to the mortuary was somber. Every police officer in the valley must have been there. I have seen the motorcade when the President of the US visited Utah and it was nothing compared to what I saw this time. Every intersection was blocked for the entire 15 mile trip. Police were not leap frogging to get ahead to the next
intersection, they were already there. It was below freezing, yet there were officers on motorcycles.

When we arrived at the funeral home, the Honor Guard removed 2LT Lundell from the hearse and took him inside. Once inside, I followed the casket to a back room. CPT Wiedmeier was the Casualty Assistance Officer and he took care of the family while I went with 2LT Lundell. My job was easy compared to his.

The funeral home director and his staff only had a few minutes to try to make any adjustments if needed. We were told, "Viewable for Identification Only". This would most likely mean a closed casket and no viewing. SGT Parsons had told me they always down grade the condition to protect the family.

When the casket was opened there was opaque plastic covering his face. I feared the worst. When it was removed, he looked perfect. The funeral home people set about their duties while I inspected his uniform. Everything was in order and they moved him to a viewing room.

CPT Wiedmeier broke away so he and I could take care of paperwork. I signed over 2LT Lundell's personal effects and his awards to him so he could present them to the family. When he left to do this, I met with the Director of the funeral home and had him sign the remaining forms accepting 2LT Lundell and verifying his condition.

The Honor Guard took charge of guarding 2LT Lundell until his funeral. They would stand vigilant through the night and into the day until he was laid to final rest.

I found the 1LT who brought 2LT Lundell out of Afghanistan. His wife was clutching his arm. I thought how she must be thinking how easily the roles could be reversed and how it could be her husband instead. I talked with him briefly, offering encouragement and assistance. I'm sure those two spent the night holding each other closer than they ever have in their lives.

This was one of the greatest honors I've ever had. I wish to never do this again, but would do so anytime for any soldier.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Oquirrh Mountain Temple

My daughter Amy and I attended a satellite broadcast of the groundbreaking for the new Oquirrh Mountain, Utah Temple. After looking at the design of this temple, the exterior reminds me somewhat of the Nauvoo, Illinois temple.

It was a cold and snowy morning, but a large tent had been erected around the groundbreaking site. The tent was heated, and equipped with an organ. 1The First Presidency, several members of the Quorum of the Twelve, The Presiding Bishopric, and a few members of the Seventy were there. The audience was made up of Stake Presidents, and their families who reside within the new temple district.

A a beautiful sounding choir was also there. They sounded angelic and glorious! They sang common hymns found in the LDS Hymnbook, but they were special arrangements. I would not be surprised if they were specially arranged for this occasion.

All three members of the First Presidency spoke -- just 4-5 minute talks each. I was pleased to see President Faust feeling well enough to stand while giving his talk. President Faust spoke of a prophecy, from long ago, attributed to Brigham Young, that envisioned the Jordan River as being the center of the city, and that one-day there would be three million people in the valley. (We're somewhere around 1 million right now in Salt Lake County -- 2 million if you count the whole Wasatch Front.)

Originally, the name of the new temple was to be the "South Jordan, Utah" temple (that's what it said on our program too!) However, President Hinckley announced at the groundbreaking service that they had decided to change the name so as not to have this temple confused with the Jordan River Temple, which also happens to be in the city of South Jordan, Utah. When the Oquirrh Mountain Temple is completed, South Jordan, Utah will be the only city in the world that will have two LDS temples.

President Hinckley then offered the dedicatory prayer, dedicating the site for the construction of the temple. His prayer included all those who will work on the temple, that they may remember the special and sacred nature of this building, and do their work with the skill and care that this project will require.

After the prayer, and the close of the service, the ceremonial groundbreaking took place.

As you can see by the photo, they hauled in some fresh top soil for the occasion. They also erected a little platform, not unlike the deck of a swimming pool, covered in artificial turf. President Hinckley joked that, "This is kind of fake!" with the hauled in top soil.

However, the top soil served its purpose. Church leaders, civic leaders, and a representative of the Land Development company that donated the Land all had their turns.

Then they turned the shovels loose. Anyone in the tent, who had a desire, was invited to come and turn a spade of earth. There were several children present in the audience. What a great experience, especially for them.

You can read more about the groundbreaking in the Deseret News article here.

Temple Facts

Oquirrh Mountain, Utah Temple
Temple Site: 11 acres
Floor Space: 60,000 Square Feet
Location: 11022 S 4000 W, South Jordan, Utah
Wall Height: 63 feet
Spire Height: 193 feet
Exterior Finish: Light beige granite from China

Just to get an idea of how the size of this new temple, compares to the size of other existing temples, I looked up the following information from an LDS Temples web site:

Temple Square Footage Comparisons:

Salt Lake Temple: 253,000 sq. ft.
Jordan River Temple: 148,000 sq. ft.
Provo, Utah Temple: 128,000 sq. ft
Mount Timpanogos Temple: 107, 000 sq. ft
Manti, Utah Temple: 100,000 sq. ft.

Oquirrh Mountain, Utah Temple: 60,000 sq. ft.

Draper, Utah Temple: 57,000 sq. ft. (Under Construction)
Nauvoo, Illinois Temple: 54,000 sq. ft.
Dallas, Texas Temple: 47,000 sq. ft.
Chicago, Illinois Temple: 30,000 sq. ft.
Monticello, Utah Temple: 11,000 sq. ft.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Little Word Fun

Here are 33 names for things you never knew had names!
  1. AGLET - The plain or ornamental covering on the end of a shoelace.
  2. ARMSAYE - The armhole in clothing.
  3. CHANKING - Spat-out food, such as rinds or pits.
  4. COLUMELLA NASI - The bottom part of the nose between the nostrils.
  5. DRAG√ČES - Small beadlike pieces of candy, usually silver-coloured, used for decorating cookies, cakes and sundaes.
  6. FEAT - A dangling curl of hair.
  7. FERRULE - The metal band on a pencil that holds the eraser in place.
  8. HARP - The small metal hoop that supports a lampshade.
  9. HEMIDEMISEMIQUAVER - A 64th note. (A 32nd is a demisemiquaver, and a 16th note is a semiquaver.)
  10. JARNS,
  11. NITTLES,
  12. GRAWLIX,
  13. and QUIMP - Various squiggles used to denote cussing in comic books.
  14. KEEPER - The loop on a belt that keeps the end in place after it has passed through the buckle.
  15. KICK or PUNT - The indentation at the bottom of some wine bottles. It gives added strength to the bottle but lessens its holding capacity.
  16. LIRIPIPE - The long tail on a graduate's academic hood.
  17. MINIMUS - The little finger or toe.
  18. NEF - An ornamental stand in the shape of a ship.
  19. OBDORMITION - The numbness caused by pressure on a nerve; when a limb is `asleep'.
  20. OCTOTHORPE - The symbol `#' on a telephone handset. Bell Labs' engineer Don Macpherson created the word in the 1960s by combining octo-, as in eight, with the name of one of his favourite athletes, 1912 Olympic decathlon champion Jim Thorpe.
  21. OPHRYON - The space between the eyebrows on a line with the top of the eye sockets.
  22. PEEN - The end of a hammer head opposite the striking face.
  23. PHOSPHENES - The lights you see when you close your eyes hard. Technically the luminous impressions are due to the excitation of the retina caused by pressure on the eyeball.
  24. PURLICUE - The space between the thumb and extended forefinger.
  25. RASCETA - Creases on the inside of the wrist.
  26. ROWEL - The revolving star on the back of a cowboy's spurs.
  27. SADDLE - The rounded part on the top of a matchbook.
  28. SCROOP - The rustle of silk.
  29. SNORKEL BOX - A mailbox with a protruding receiver to allow people to deposit mail without leaving their cars.
  30. SPRAINTS - Otter dung.
  31. TANG - The projecting prong on a tool or instrument.
  32. WAMBLE - Stomach rumbling.
  33. ZARF - A holder for a handleless coffee cup.

More word fun can be found at The Book of Lists.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ready For A Laugh?

Sometimes you just need a good laugh to help you get by. I recently came across a new blogger who can spin quite a yarn. She insists that they are true life experiences of her own, and I have no reason to doubt it.

The blog is called Put That In Your Blog. There are two entries that should give you a pretty good laugh:

I know Victoria's Secret . . .


Buffalo Don't Eat Corn


Scott Lundell Funeral

A few days ago I mentioned the death of a family friend, Lt. Scott B. Lundell, who was killed in action, in a firefight in Afghanistan.

His funeral was held last Saturday. I was unable to attend because of a church assignment at the same time as the funeral.

The Deseret Morning News has a very touching article about the funeral. You can read it here. I encourage you to read it.

The Salt Lake Tribune also covered the funeral. You can read that article here.

Scott's wife, Jeanine, spoke at the funeral. Among other things, she said:
"Ours is a true love story," Jeanine concluded at the church. "Death is not the end.

"I will miss him more than words can express," she added. "I await our glorious reunion and look forward to our happily-ever-after part of the story."
My, what great courage and love she has. Our prayers are with her and her young children.

A fund has been set up for the education of the children at Mountain America Credit Union. Walk up donations are accepted at any of their branches. If you are not near a Mountain America Branch, you can mail a contribution to the Scott B. Lundell fund at:

MACU Fulfillment Dept
Attn Olivia
7181 S Campus View Dr
West Jordan UT 84084

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Welcome Abigail !

I have a new niece, Abigail. My brother Doug, and my sister-in-law Becky are the proud new parents.

Abigail was born on November 17th. Both mother and baby are fine.

Abigail joins her sisters and brother, Lizzy, Benji, Stephi, and Jenny.

The only problem is that we don't get to visit with them very often. They live in Virginia, and we are here in Utah.

It's wonderful to welcome new life into the world, especially in light of some of the losses we've experienced lately.

In fact, this whole season, we remember the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. That one special new life that came into the world. That life that would one day redeem the whole world. The life that would let each one of us have a re-birth, where we could lay aside our sins, and become newborn children ourselves, in the family of God.

Welcome to the world, and to our family Abigail. And may we each also find ourselves welcome to the family of God, through Jesus Christ, as we sojourn through this world.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Mary Did You Know - Redux

Now that its December, I am officially starting to get into the Christmas Spirit. I think I had a mental block about getting into the Christmas mood before December.

I looked on my blog stats today, and found that by far the most commonly viewed pages are from last December. Wow, who would think that year-old posts are still being viewed. As it turns out, both have to do with Christmas music.

The first is a post I wrote a year ago about one of my favorite Christmas songs, Baby What You Goin' to be. You can listen to this song if you click on the link. As it turns out, there are a lot of fans of this song, but it is terribly hard to find on CD. This version is from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I converted the song to MP3 from an old vinyl LP I had, which was produced in the late 1970's, which has never been produced as a CD. I have received a lot of comments on this post from last year during the last couple of weeks. In that post, I explain why the song is so meaningful to me, in a very personal way.

A lot of people have also been going to my post from last year on the song: Mary Did You Know? The only problem with that post is that some of the links no longer work. Also, last year I couldn't find a recording of my favorite version of the song. Well good news! I have found it, and now you can have a listen for yourself. I hope you enjoy it.

Mary Did You Know?
Performed by Kim Bracken

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I like this arrangement because it is simple, and moving. I have heard other versions that are kind of schmaltzy and overblown, in my opinion. The words to this song are quite amazing too:

"Mary, Did You Know?"
Written by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy
Would someday walk on water?
Mary did you know
That your baby boy
Will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
That your baby boy
Has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered
Will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know
That your baby boy
Will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know
That your baby boy
Will calm the storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy
Has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby
You've kissed the face of God.

The blind will see
The deaf will hear
The dead will live again
The lame will leap
The dumb will speak
The praises of the Lamb

Mary did you know
That your baby boy
Is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know
That your baby boy
Will one day rule the nations?
Did you know
That your baby boy
Is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding
Is the Great I Am