About 100 members of the Salt Lake Ensign Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made a morning pilgrimage July 27 to the top of the stake's namesake — Ensign Peak.
They began by singing "High on the Mountain Top" ("Hymns," No. 5), a hymn that refers to an event 166 years earlier, when, on July 26, 1847, President Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, Heber C. Kimball and others ascended the conical hill north of present-day Temple Square to survey the Salt Lake Valley.
John Welch, a 92-year-old member of the stake high council, related the facts of that signal event, and stake members were provided with yellow handkerchiefs, similar to those carried up the hill by pioneer leaders. Lew Cramer, the stake president, briefly reminded the stake of its rich historical heritage.
Welch, just as Wilford Woodruff before him, led the group on the half-mile hike. The trail is quite steep and rutted, and many of the participants, including children, were making the climb for the first time. On reaching the summit, they gathered around the cobblestone obelisk erected by the Sons of Utah Pioneers with stones from each county of Utah.
Coincidentally, descendants of Joel Johnson, author of "High on the Mountain Top," were also enjoying the panoramic view of the Salt Lake Valley, and both groups enjoyed singing his hymn together atop Ensign Peak.
With many more missionaries now going out into the world, the Ensign Stake members felt a kinship with the pioneers, and the words from another favorite hymn, "They, the Builders of the Nation" ("Hymns," No. 36), came to mind: "As an ensign to the nations, They unfurled the flag of truth."
On a signal from Cramer, those gathered saluted the legacy of the early Mormon pioneers by waving their yellow handkerchiefs, shouting "An ensign to the nation!" and "Three cheers for the pioneers!"