By KEVIN ELZE
Personal virtue and private morality are the foundation of individual peace and national liberty, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said Sunday night at the annual Freedom Festival fireside in the Marriott Center.
“America was founded on a few simple principles, including and foremost, that of personal virtue and private morality,” Elder Holland said. A former president of BYU, Elder Holland said America’s history proves that freedom and peace require something from the people, not just from the government.
“The hope for liberty and justice for all is a hope that must emanate from our families, our homes, our schools and our neighborhoods,” he said. “The call to patriotism — even when we are not in a time of war — is a call out to every one of us.”
According to Elder Holland, the United States needs people who love the noble, demonstrate the moral, reject evil, practice virtue and protect the safety and happiness that all have the right to embrace and uphold.
Quoting many of the founding fathers including Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Samuel Adams, Elder Holland emphasized that belief in God is key to the character of an independent nation.
He stressed the importance of personal sacrifice quoting Edmund Burke, an English philosopher, who said, “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains on their own appetites.”
Society’s moral sense, though God-given, can be damaged and it can be diminished.
“The virtue inherent within all can be compromised and it can be corrupted,” Elder Holland said.
A morally corrupt people can never enjoy the luxury of freedom, he said. Our founding fathers were committed to moral values which they learned from their knowledge of history and through personal experience.
“Success in their endeavors depended not only upon the virtue of the people in that time, but it depended on the continuation of those virtues in every successive generation to come,” Elder Holland said.
“We have to keep living in peace in every generation by emphasizing over and over and over again the fundamental need for virtue in the human heart.”
Music for the devotional was provided by a 2,000-voice children’s choir and the 23rd Army Band. The choir sang the national anthem as well as the state song, “Utah We Love Thee.” The band, meanwhile, performed a selection of pieces, including John Phillip Souza’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.