Utahns recalled the past Monday as they honored those who have given their lives in service to their country, and they looked toward the future as they celebrated the beginning of summer.
Despite cool and rainy weather, thousands of residents trekked to cemeteries.At Memory Grove, Lt. Gov. Val Oveson spoke at a memorial service sponsored by the United Veterans Council and Salt Lake City and County.
Several other Memorial Day ceremonies were held throughout the state, including observances at Fort Douglas Cemetery, at Union Pioneer Memorial Cemetery, on the steps of the State Capitol and in Salt Lake City and private cemeteries.
Elder Victor L. Brown, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, addressed a service held at the Salt Lake Cemetery gravesite of Pvt. Ira Jones, an original member of the Mormon Battalion.
Much of the information for Elder Brown's talk centered on resources of two members of the battalion who participated in the 2,000-mile march - Sgt. Daniel Tyler and his great-grandfather, Sgt. James Stevens Brown.
In the peaceful quiet of Memory Grove, Oveson spoke on a patriotic theme, drawing on his experiences of a visit three weeks ago to Korea and the demilitarized zone.
"As someone who did not live through that era, I have come to realize how important the Korean conflict remains to this day," Oveson said before the service began.
"By visiting Korea I got a grasp of how important that period is in history and how the problem between North and South Korea continues. We need not forget the past, because it relates to the present and it projects our future," he said.
Oveson said the price paid for freedoms that Americans enjoy cannot be measured. Memorial Day allows people to reflect upon that price and to work harder for world peace.
Elder Brown, whose great-grandfather Brown was a member of Company D of the original Memorial Battalion, said in material prepared for the service that it is appropriate on Memorial Day to honor those who served their country.
He said members of the Mormon Battalion, which marched under great hardship and privation, was recruited from pioneers who themselves were destitute and who were scattered from Nauvoo to Council Bluffs and west of the Missouri River. He said it is probably one of the most unusual recruitments of a battalion in America's history.
Elder Brown said President Brigham Young and other church leaders did not take lightly the call of the United States for members of the church to serve their country during the war with Mexico.
Shortly before the Mormon Battalion service began in the Salt Lake Cemetery, descendants of another Mormon pioneer, Nancy O'Neal Rich, were participating in a separate program Monday at Pioneer Trail State Park.
Rich, who was ill during most of her trek across the plains and who died three days after entering the Salt Lake Valley, Oct. 15, 1847, was one of the earliest pioneers to be buried in the Salt Lake Valley.
James H. Romero, Salt Lake City, said Monday he and other descendants believe the woman, mother of Mormon apostle Charles C. Rich, was buried in a pioneer cemetery that was discovered two years ago on Block 49, just east of Pioneer Park in Salt Lake City.
That and other graves were relocated at the Pioneer Trail State Park, according to Michael W. Johnson, curator of education at the park.
Visiting cemeteries to honor deceased family members is an important tradition for thousands of other Utahns, including Mary Wilson, Layton, and her daughter, Pat Larson, Clearfield.
The two women and other relatives Saturday visited the military section of Salt Lake Cemetery, where Wilson's brother, Pvt. William M. Plant, who served in the U.S. Army during World War II, is buried.
They also visited and decorated about 30 other graves of relatives in Salt Lake, Bountiful and Kaysville cemeteries.
"Memorial Day to me is a day to honor our dead. If I can't come on any other day I can be sure to come on this day," Wilson said.
Visitors Saturday at the Fort Douglas Cemetery included Julia Hathaway, Salt Lake City, and Barbara Elliott, Orem, who say they enjoy the time for reflection as they walk in or near the cemetery.
"It's especially important to recognize veterans," said Hathaway, a student at the University of Utah College of Nursing. She said the cemetery is a nice quiet place to reflect on the past and plan for the future.