Mountain Meadows Monument

GB Hinckley "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 our own."

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