Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
“As One,” a new musical inspired by the golden spike era, is performed during the 150th anniversary celebration of the completion of the transcontinental railroad at the Golden Spike National Historical Park at Promontory Summit on Friday, May 10.

Accomplishing significant goals, achieving transformative breakthroughs or delivering society-changing solutions requires vision, focus and unity. Friday’s celebration of the 150th anniversary of the driving of the golden spike at Promontory Summit reminded Utahns and all Americans just what can be done when people come together with a common purpose.

The telegraph message sent 150 years ago stating that the grand vision of the transcontinental railway had been accomplished contained just one word, “Done.” Two more words might have been added to make the thought more indicative of the vision: “One and done,” for in unity can the nation solve its toughest problems.

A united vision to solve the opioid crisis, end intergenerational poverty, fix immigration, improve health care or even reconnect the country by restoring a dilapidated infrastructure system would do wonders for the U.S. Unfortunately, politics often prevent progress and fracture what should be a uniting vision.

For those who worked on the railroad, distractions were not an option. They were building something that would transform the nation and stand as a legacy for generations to come.

In Congress today politicians chase myriad shiny objects and divisive distractions at the expense of focusing on things that could improve the present and alter the future. Too few have a vision to achieve something that could be celebrated in the year 2169.

Rather than focusing on something that could be remembered 150 years from now, members of Congress, the national media and regular citizens hyperventilate and obsess over things that few will remember 150 days from now. Imagine what could happen if they focused their efforts in a different way. One focus would do wonders.

Unity harnesses the most powerful potential on earth. Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, appealed to this unity during a speech at the golden spike ceremony on Friday, saying, "This celebration today also reminds us to be true to our vision for the future. ... Lincoln prayed 'that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.' So, we pray today that in Jon Meacham's words, 'The Soul of America' will prevail. These hardy laborers achieved a oneness that can guide us as a people to move forward to fulfill God’s plan for this nation, the world and all of his children."

As many rightfully note, the legacy achievement of the transcontinental railroad was carried out by an army of workers from disparate backgrounds and circumstances. Their willingness to set aside differences in order to achieve a common purpose should drive and inspire Americans today.

The country today would be wise to remember that oneness need not be sameness and that valuing diversity is always a precursor to unity.

5 comments on this story

The tremendous tasks facing the nation will require the kind of heroic unity of vision and focus that can bind citizens, drive communities and compel Congress to act for the good of Americans — and those who will follow freedom's light in the generations to come.

Perhaps a modern telegraph message, in the form of a text, should have been sent last Friday. Instead of "Done," a two-word “Just begun” could spark the nation to unite once again around pursuits that will produce legacy achievements worthy of celebration 150 years from now.