Today and tomorrow our people will be flocking to the cemeteries to place flowers on the graves of loved ones. At the same time many of us will be taking some time to reflect upon the lives of those we hold dear. We may be recalling fond memories of the lessons we have learned from them. Or we will bow our heads in gratitude for the service they have provided for us. I own a cemetery lot on which my great-grandfather Joseph Taylor is buried. I remember his life particularly because he served in the Mormon Battalion, which led to his having a special military recognition on his grave each year. He also served in the Utah War during he led a contingent of sixty men up Weber Canyon to do everything they could to hinder members of Johnston's Army from coming into the Salt Lake Valley. He was captured by that army and on at least two occasions they tried to take his life--once by building a smoking fire at the entrance to his tent, and another by feeding him and his companion poisoned soup. When threatened by the smoke, he instructed his companion to scoop some soil out of the ground and breathe into that hole. Joseph later suspected the soup of being poisoned, so he instructed his companion not to eat it. The companion just tasted the soup and became deathly sick. Later Joseph told his companion that he was going to try to escape. He pretended to be cold and asked his captors to throw more wood on the fire. They did so. He took off his shoes--I suppose to make the army think he would stay close to the fire to stay warm. Then as two guards came together and turned to walk in opposite directions, Joseph dashed between them and into a herd of cattle, trying to stampede them. His captors shot at him, but he escaped and was able to return to Salt Lake City and give valuable information to the commander, Daniel H. Wells. Joseph later became the first settler in our home town of Farr West. I shall never forget his sacrifices to make it possible for me to enjoy this home in which I have raised our family, including some missionaries.
These past few days I have been thinking of my older brother, who joined the Air Force and did his part in the Pacific theater of operations to bring World War II to a successful conclusion. But I am especially proud of him that as a returned missionary he was called to lead out in spiritual affairs--meetings and such. In that assignment he continued to be a part of the Lord's Army to bring about much righteousness.
I will be decorating the graves of others who have had such a positive effect in my life--my dear companion of 59 years, my loving parents and grandparents, and even three great-grandparents, one of whom knew personally the Prophet Joseph Smith. The other Greats were personally acquainted with Brigham Young. These great leaders had a very positive effect on the lives of my extended family--and indirectly on me!
You, too, will likely be thinking of loved ones who have helped make a difference in our country--and in the Church. Tomorrow will be a day of remembering and appreciating. In our meetings today we discussed the rapid growth of the Church, which enables the Church to erect temples at an ever increasing rate around the world. Today we have a temple so close that we can perform dozens of ordinances each year for those who have made it possible for us to be here. I wish you could see the stacks of temple name slips that my grandson has on hand for us to take to the temple. Somehow it is more satisfying to do work for our own relatives.
In a different way of remembering, I am thinking of all our missionaries and the great contribution you are making to save souls, bring more tithe payers into the Church and thus enable MORE temples to be built We all have so much to do, but it is so wonderful to be engaged in the RIGHT work for the RIGHT reasons.