Celebrating July’s Holy Holidays

July 24, 2013

 Celebrating July’s Holy Holidays
by Joyce Kinmont
Happy 24th of July
The Fourth of July is always marked by parades, but in Salt Lake City the biggest parade of the year is held on July 24, Pioneer Day.  My favorite parade, by far, was one none of us attended.  It was held on July 24, 1849, two years to the day after the Saints had arrived in Utah.  It was a grand celebration and a parade to commemorate that arrival.
President Packer described it in his October 2008 Conference address, The Test.  He said that in spite of the persecutions the Saints had suffered, and although they were living in exile beyond the borders of the United States, they remained faithful to the Constitution.
It may seem puzzling, incredible almost beyond belief, that for the theme of this first celebration they chose patriotism and loyalty to that same government which had rejected and failed to assist them. What could they have been thinking of?  If you can understand why, you will understand the power of the teachings of Christ.
“If you can understand . . . .”   President Packer used those words several times.   I do understand that our pioneers knew and treasured the Declaration and the Constitution far more deeply than we do.  I believe they better understood the religious significance of those documents.
I think the significance of the young men carrying the documents in the parade rises from their responsibility to protect their families and communities.  The documents should have been their protection in the states, and it was the mobs who violated the principles, not any failure of the documents, that caused their suffering.  The Saints knew the documents were of God and were for all people.
I think the significance of the young women carrying the scriptures arises from their nurturing role and their future motherhood.  President McKay said motherhood is the closest thing to Godhood.  Mothers sacrifice their own bodies to bring others to this second estate.  Mothers nurture the children and provide their first gospel lessons.
As for the “silver grays,” President Packer explained the symbolism:  “These men were a symbol of the priesthood…”  My own realization is that since the men are ordained to the priesthood as “kings and priests” they are responsible to both governing and administer the gospel in their family and community by Holy principles.  The Declaration and the Constitution are Holy documents that contain the principles God gave to ancient prophets.
It disappoints me that we pay so little attention to our founding documents on our Holy July holidays.  Yesterday Glenn Beck had a man named Carlo on his tv program.  Carlo is one of the leaders of a 30,000 member “tea party” in Italy.  He came to America for a month to attend Glenn’s Man in the Moon event and to study how they might implement the principles in our founding documents in his own country.  How he loves our documents.
The 4th of July, Independence Day
The Declaration of Independence was approved in Congress on July 2, but the printed document was dated July 4.  John Adams had already written to Abigail on the 3rd:
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.
For my family this year was truly “a great anniversary festival.”  The celebrations around the 4th were the same as always in our local communities, but there was a great festival in Salt Lake City because Glenn Beck was in town.  On the 5th my husband and I joined his celebration.  We spent Friday at the hotel handing out literature at the Common Core table, bagging books at David Barton’s table, listening to Senator Mike Lee’s speech, and talking to many wonderful people from all over the country.  That evening we attended the Freedomworks event and heard more fantastic speakers.  We were especially moved by Rafeal Cruz, the Cuban immigrant and father of US Senator Ted Cruz.
On Saturday evening thirteen members of our family, including five grandchildren, attended the Man in the Moon program.  We came hours early to stake out our place on the lawn. Yes, we got very wet.  No, we didn’t care.  Yes, we prayed with David Barton, saw the double rainbow, and knew that God was there.  Yes, the program was fantastic and inspiring.  And yes, all 20,000 of us will feel the lasting impact of the Man in the Moon’s message for a long, long time.
Oh, and after the Man in the Moon finished his story there were spectacular fireworks! 
Here’s what the rain and the rainbow looked like before the show.
Here’s a look at the Man in the Moon himself.
If you are fascinated by the flag ceremony you may want to watch this close up footage and this radio discussion about how the flag lowering was done.
If you are a subscriber to TheBlaze.com you probably watched the Behind the Scenes Documentary that aired July 12.  If you’re not a subscriber, you can sign up for a two week free trial.  There is so much good on that station; it is a living curriculum for any family.  Raj, who made the short before-the-show rainbow video, also hosts a wonderful children’s program called Liberty Tree.  For the teens and college students, Wilkow, is a great “civics” teacher who your teens and college students will enjoy.
From Church History
Today I reread The Test, but on the 4th of July I watched both President Packer and President Benson and wrote:
In 1997 the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence was celebrated by our Church with great seriousness.  Ezra Taft Benson, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, was in charge.  This morning I watched his October 1976 Conference Address, Our Priceless Heritage, which he gave at the end of the bicentennial celebration.  (I think he really wanted to call his remarks “America on Her Knees.”) He paid tribute to the Declaration and to the brave, inspired men who risked their lives to write and sign it:
The Declaration of Independence was to set forth the moral justification of a rebellion against a long-recognized political tradition—the divine right of kings. At issue was the fundamental question of whether men’s rights were God-given or whether these rights were to be dispensed by governments to their subjects. This document proclaimed that all men have certain inalienable rights. In other words, these rights came from God. Therefore, the colonists were not rebels against political authority, but a free people only exercising their rights before an offending, usurping power. They were thus morally justified to do what they did.
President Benson also paid tribute to pioneers and quoted President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. from his remarks on July 24, 1947 when he dedicated the This Is the Place Monument, at the mouth of Emigration Canyon where that first company of Saints stopped to survey the valley below.  President Clark asked:
 “Can we keep and preserve what they [those valiant patriots and pioneers] wrought? Shall we pass on to our children the heritage they left us, or shall we lightly fritter it away? Have we their faith, their bravery, their courage; could we endure their hardships and suffering, make their sacrifices, bear up under their trials, their sorrows, their tragedies, believe the simple things they knew were true, have the simple faith that worked miracles for them, follow, and not falter or fall by the wayside, where our leaders advance, face the slander and the scorn of an unpopular belief? Can we do the thousands of little and big things that made them the heroic builders of a great Church, a great commonwealth?”
We can and we must do at least a few little and big things.
I’ll be sending that article out very soon.  Today I just wanted to note these sacred and Holy days.
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