Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
PROVO — America’s Freedom Festival at Provo honored four Utahns on Tuesday for espousing the cause of freedom and supporting traditional American values.
Hundreds of community leaders, dignitaries and patriots gathered to applaud the Freedom Awards Gala winners at the Utah Valley Convention Center.
Paul Warner, executive director of the Freedom Festival, said the 2013 Freedom Award recipients are people who each uniquely demonstrate the importance of commitment to family, freedom, God and country.
H. David Burton, an emeritus general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, received the Humanitarian Freedom Award.
Warner said Burton conducted 17 years of humanitarian efforts as presiding bishop of the LDS Church. He was recognized for overseeing millions of dollars in goods, products and services provided to people in need around the world, including immunizations, wheelchairs and vision care.
“His entire life has been one of service and trying to make sure that those in downcast conditions could be helped appropriately by church funds,” Warner said.
Colton Burpo was recognized for sharing the message of God’s reality and ongoing concern for humanity in his best-selling book “Heaven Is for Real.”
In the book, Burpo documents a near-death experience during a struggle with acute appendicitis and shares his experiences and knowledge of life after death, Warner said. Burpo's family shared in the honor for their support and commitment to God during his struggle, Warner said.
Peggy S. Harris was honored with the Love of Country Freedom Award for her unfaltering will to wait 62 years before finding out that her husband died in World War II.
“She’s been a faithful and true wife, even though she didn’t know what had happened to her husband,” Warner said. “She went all those years and had no idea what had happened to him. When she finally found out, she wasn’t mad or angry. She just maintained a wonderful spirit about it.”
William P. Dumas, a U.S. Marine Corps and Korean War veteran from Orem, was honored for defending the nation’s freedom by fighting at Inchon Landing, Chosin Reservoir and Pork Chop Hill.
“(Dumas) is representative of the great number of men that, under difficult circumstances, hung in there when things were tough and knew they were there to defend the freedom of our country,” Warner said. “He is like so many that knew the dangers, yet were willing to go through those things to keep us where we have the freedoms we do today.”
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