Utahns who enjoy living in Salt Lake City and other places in the Mountain West should never forget the price their forefathers paid in establishing themselves, said Elder Glen L. Rudd at the Days of '47 sunrise services Monday.
Elder Rudd, of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, talked about his pioneer heritage and the struggles of the Mormon settlers. The 7 a.m. service was in the Tabernacle on Temple Square."We have a marvelous, beautiful, clean city. I was born and raised here. I have been in many foreign countries and have traveled considerably, but this is still home and the place I love most of all," he said.
Elder Rudd talked about his ancestor's journey to the Salt Lake Valley and reminisced about how the pioneers spent their first days in the promised land.
Elder Rudd said his great-grandparents traveled all the way from Wales to come to Utah. His great-grandmother was very ill, but was told by missionaries in Wales that she would live until she arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. One day after her arrival, she died, leaving behind a husband, young daughter and Elder Rudd's grandfather, who was only 4 years old.
"I heard the story of his journey across the plains and the tragedy he, his little sister and his good father had to endure just a day following their arrival in the Salt Lake Valley. The price people paid to establish their home in this part of the world was a heavy price," Elder Rudd said.
He said Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff and the other Mormon pioneers had to overcome severe hardships to establish themselves in the Salt Lake Valley. He said Brigham Young was ill during the journey, and had to ride most of the way in a wagon, leaving the navigating to other members of the wagon train.
"When President Young arrived, he saw the valley and realized he was looking at mountains, land, trees and a great valley that he had seen before in a vision," Elder Rudd said.
The main body of pioneers arrived in the valley on Saturday, July 24, 1847. The next morning no work was done, even though it was almost an absolute necessity, Elder Rudd said.
"Instead of working, everyone stopped to worship the Lord and held regular church services. Brigham Young, although he was very weak and quite feeble from the sickness he had, spoke to the saints for the first time here in this valley."
Elder Rudd said Brigham Young told the assembled saints that if they worked on Sunday, they would lose more than they would gain. "Now, 141 years later, the sabbath day is still the sabbath day and the instructions he gave the church members not to work on the sabbath day are still in effect."
He said the pioneers were blessed and prosperous in the promised land.
On the evening of July 24, there was a thundershower over the entire valley, which came as a surprise to the settlers because it was the general opinion that it never rained in the valley during the summer. "This came as a special blessing to the people and gave the hope that their crops would survive," Elder Rudd said.
He said the pioneers selected the spot for the temple just four days after their arrival in the Salt Lake Valley and the next day, 140 members of the Mormon Battalion marched into the city to join the rest of the saints, bringing with them 100 members from Mississippi.
In less than one week, fields were planted, homesteads were established and men began making the journey back to retrieve their families. By the end of 1847, five months after their arrival, 423 houses had been built and the population had grown to 1,671.
Elder Rudd said it wasn't long before non-Mormons came to live in Salt Lake City, and now 50 percent of the people living in Salt Lake City are not members of the LDS Church.
"This doesn't mean that they are not welcome here or that they do not have a place here - they certainly do belong here. It is their city too. I hope those of us who are members of the church never lose sight of the fact that our non-member friends have every right to be as happy here as they possibly can," he said.
There is nothing more improper than making non-Mormons feel they are not good, faithful people if they don't conform to the standards of the LDS Church, Elder Rudd said.
"I think that it is proper that we stop and think of the past, but the real challenge we all have is to live peacefully and happy together in this beautiful land of America and be grateful for the privilege and opportunities that we enjoy in this modern, wonderful day and age."