The Tabernacle Choir, which has "sung from sea to shining sea and beyond" was the featured attraction at a patriotic program Feb. 24, "Celebrate America." The event, sponsored by the Utah chapter of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, was held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square in conjunction with Freedom Awareness Week proclaimed by Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt.
Gov. Leavitt participated in the program. He read the narration for "We the People." Michelle King, a news anchor for KUTV-Channel 2 in Salt Lake City, narrated for "Patriot's Song," and Wm. James Mortimer, publisher of the Deseret News, spoke about and read "The Gettysburg Address." Margaret D. Nadauld, president of the Utah chapter of the Freedoms Foundation, gave welcoming and introductory remarks.The Freedoms Foundation is a national non-profit, non-partisan and non-sectarian organization dedicated to the preservation of the principles embodied in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Don Gale, Bonneville International Corporation vice president for news and public affairs, presented on behalf of the foundation medals to four citizens, "heroes" whose lives and actions have benefited others and who represent the ideals of freedom. Those honored were:
Agnes M. Plenk, founder of the Children's Center to help troubled children under age 5; Kent Kiernan, a public safety officer for Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, and attorney G. Richard Hill, both of whom disarmed a gunman at Weber State; and Dale J. Harding, principal of Edison Elementary School in Salt Lake City.
The Tabernacle Choir, directed by Jerold Ottley, provided a musical program of patriotic favorites, opening with the national anthem, and moving on to such numbers as "We the People," "A Song of Peace," "So Many Voices Sing America's Song," and "My Country `Tis of Thee." The audience of some 3,500 joined the choir in singing "America the Beautiful" and "This Land Is Your Land."
The patriotic tone for the evening was set as the Combined Services Color Guard paraded and posted the U.S. flag, and Alta High School's Symphonic Brass Choir played "Fanfare for the Common Man."
Toward the end of the program, children and youth paraded American flags up and down the Tabernacle's aisles, across the balcony and the steps of the choir loft. The podium and loft were draped in red, white and blue bunting, and two large American flags were unfurled above the choir seats.