By Lincoln Hubbard
Principles of freedom and liberty echoed in song and speech late Sunday, July 2, during the patriotic service
The service, held at the Marriott Center, was part of Utah’s Freedom Festival.
Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was this year’s featured speaker.
He expressed concern that America’s youth may not appreciate the freedom they enjoy.
“Here we are in the year 2000,” Haight said. “I wonder and I worry about our youth and how much they know about how all this came about.”
Elder Haight briefly recounted key events in the founding of America, from the voyages of Columbus to the sending of the Declaration of Independence to the countries of the world.
He acknowledged the hand of deity in establishing the nation.
“This country did not come about accidentally,” Haight said.
Elder Haight underlined the freedoms provided by the Constitution.
“I want you to know that in the establishing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, we have the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, assembly and free press. These things are necessary for a free people,” he said.
Elder Haight personally served in the armed forces that have maintained American liberty.
As a commander in the United States Navy during World War II, he received a special citation from the commander of the U.S. Pacific fleet, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.
“I watched the end of World War I, and participated in World War II. I’ve watched the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the creation of new nations out in the world,” Elder Haight said.
He also praised the founding fathers for their sacrifice to creating a new nation.
“They were willing to place everything on the altar — everything that they had, their lives and their fortunes. It thrills me every time I think of what they were fighting for and that they were willing to give up everything they had to make what we are celebrating here today possible,” Elder Haight said.
According to Elder Haight, today’s generation has a responsibility in upholding the constitution.
“The rights, opportunities and responsibilities we have are to preserve and protect the constitution,” Elder Haight said.
Elder Haight closed his address by stressing the importance of staying loyal to the freedom the constitution provides.
“I leave you my love and my witness that this is the land of liberty and justice for all. May we cherish it,” he said.
Music for the patriotic service was provided by the Utah Valley Symphony, led by Bryce Rytting.
The symphony led the congregation in the “Star Spangled Banner,” and also performed the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” as well as prelude music.
Joe Lambson, 18, who recently graduated from Orem High School, also spoke at the service.
Lambson delivered the speech that won him the senior category of the Freedom Festival Speech Contest.
Lambson’s theme highlighted the important principles of freedom and echoed Elder Haight’s counsel for remembering the sacrifice of the founders.
“Those of my generation must recognize the price that has been paid so we can be here today,” Lambson said.