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Kenneth Mays, Deseret News Archive
Nauvoo Temple as seen from Montrose, Iowa, with Lake Cooper (Mississippi River) in the foreground.

More than 200 Latter-day Saints marched down Historic Nauvoo's Parley Street to the Mississippi River Saturday morning to commemorate the 171st anniversary of the Mormon pioneer exodus to the Salt Lake Valley.

The 1846 reenactment was open to the public, but mostly consisted of missionaries and local members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dressed like the Nauvoo Legion with rifles and bearing flags. The group was followed by horses and oxen pulling covered wagons that would have carried families west, according to William Smith of thehawkeye.com, who covered the event.

"That was a tender mercy to me, to get to walk in the place of my great-great-grandmother," Yvonne Lawson, a missionary serving in Nauvoo, told Smith.

LDS Church members have been commemorating the exodus with a march down Parley Street since its 150th anniversary in 1996. Some participants came from as far away as New Mexico, according to the Fort Madison Daily Democrat.

The event is a reminder of religious freedom, Susan Sims, a public affairs representative for the LDS Church, told a reporter from the Daily Democrat.

"It's a time to honor all who have helped settle in the United States through their sacrifice and to remember the importance of religious freedom for all faiths," Sims told Denisha Mixon. "It's a time to remember the good that came out of it. The people that left everything behind went out to do great things. And they did so with hope and confidence in our country and in our future."

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