"Let the book of the past be closed", said President Hinckley to about 1,000 people
gathered on 11 September at the site of the 1857 massacre of more than 80 emigrants on
their way to California. "Let peace come into our hearts. Let friendship and love be
extended. May the peace of heaven be felt over this hallowed ground."
To memorialize the slain emigrants, the Church recently rebuilt a cairn that was
originally erected in 1859 and subsequently rebuilt several times, including once in 1932
by the Church. The tall pile of rocks is now surrounded by a low, flower-adorned stone
wall and a taller iron fence. President Hinckley said that the Church "will be here as
long as the earth lasts, and it will take care of this place."
Relayed by satellite transmission to meetinghouses in Arkansas, southern Utah, the Salt
Lake area, and Idaho, the service was viewed by descendants of those involved in the
tragedy. To prepare the site and assist in construction, about 1,000 local members and
friends donated nearly 4,000 hours of labor. The monument is located about 30 miles
northwest of St. George, Utah.
"This is an emotional experience for me", said President Hinckley. "I come as
peacemaker. This is not a time for recrimination or the assignment of blame. No one can
explain what happened in these meadows 142 years ago. We may speculate, but we do not
know. We do not understand it. We cannot comprehend it. We can only say the past is long
since gone. It cannot be recalled. It cannot be changed. It is time to leave the entire
matter in the hands of God, who deals justly in all things. His is a wisdom far beyond
President Hinckley continued:" I sit in the chair that Brigham Young occupied as
President of the Church at the time of the tragedy. I have read very much of the history
of what occurred here. There is no question in my mind that he was opposed to what
happened. Had there been a faster means of communication, it never would have happened
and history would have been different. That which we have done here must never be
construed as an acknowledgment on the part of the Church of any complicity in the
occurrences of that fateful and tragic day. But we have an obligation. We have a moral
responsibility. We have a Christian duty to honor, respect, and to do all feasible to
remember and recognize those who died here."
The day before the dedication, descendants of the wagon train pioneers held a two-hour
memorial service and reinterred the remains of 29 men, women, and children that had been
accidentally uncovered during construction of the new monument.
From November 1999, Ensign Magazine
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