Hearts and minds will focus on America and patriotism during a non-denominational service this Sunday, said Ron Clark, president of America's Freedom Festival at Provo.
The service is part of the three-week Freedom Festival's Fourth of July celebration.President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will be the keynote speaker.
"We have invited President Monson for several years and this will be his first time to visit Provo for the patriotic service," Clark said. "We feel terribly honored. I don't care what religious persuasion you have, this man delivers a message for the people."
Before Monson speaks, a 1,998-member family choir will sing two numbers focusing on the festival's theme - "Hope of America." Choir members range in age from 8 to grandmas and grandpas who represent all religions in the valley, Clark said.
"This is the first time we have engaged a choir of this magnitude from all religious faiths in Utah County," he said.
The top Air National Guard Band in the United States will also perform. The 38-member 560th Air National Guard Band from Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Wash., "will pump people up to no end," Clark said.
A song by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Janice Kapp Perry, "I Love Old Glory," will be sung by Paul Engemann. "It will be spine-tingling in and of itself," Clark said.
A NASA astronaut, Col. Richard Searfoss, who was the commander of the space shuttle Atlantis and Challenger will also speak about the theme before President Monson.
This is a Sunday service with applause and shouting where people can really express themselves, Clark said.
"It allows us to think about who we are, allows us to contemplate about what the future might be if we don't knuckle down and become better citizens for the country," he said.
The service will begin at 5:45 p.m. in the Marriott Center at BYU. The event tends to fill to capacity quickly, so those wanting to attend are urged to arrive early. Doors will open at 4 p.m. Overflow areas for viewing the service will be at the Oak Hills Chapel at 1600 N. 900 East and the BYU 11th and 17th Stake Center at 1915 N. Canyon Road. The service will also be rebroadcast on KBYU and by satellite uplink to 1,500 LDS stake centers throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.