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Patriotic pageant features address by Elder Perry

A community pageant here Sept. 17, celebrating the birth of the U.S. Constitution, was capped with an address by Elder L. Tom Perry in which he asked the audience, "Where is your Title of Liberty?"

The question from Elder Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve was in reference to the Book of Mormon incident in which Moroni, chief commander of the Nephite armies, raised a banner called the Title of Liberty to rally the people to defend their rights and religion. (See Alma 46.)"Will your heavenly banner be high?" the apostle asked the audience. "Will you be willing to stand up and defend that which we have received? God will bless this great land of America so long as we're faithful, so long as those values which have kept us strong and kept us growing and kept us a mighty nation are adhered to by the peoples of the land."

A capacity audience filled the Kent Concert Hall at Utah State University for the gathering, "A Day to Remember." It is the seventh year the pageant, written by Scott N. Bradley, has been staged by citizens of Cache Valley. LDS participation included the Logan Institute Choir, which joined with New Horizons, a group of young people, in providing choral music.

In a series of vignettes, actors depicted such events in American history as the signing of the Mayflower Compact, the midnight ride of Paul Revere, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, George Washington's prayer at Valley Forge and the Constitutional Convention.

Adding to the spectacle was a Marine Corps color guard, a fife-and-drum corps, and a "March of the Flags" featuring Cache Valley Boy Scouts carrying American flags.

In his speech, Elder Perry told of his service on the National Bicentennial Committee to observe the 200th birthday of the United States in 1976. The committee was carefully balanced according to religion, gender and political persuasion. As a committee member, he was appointed to chair a subcommittee of religious leaders. This subcommittee failed in an attempt to issue a proclamation declaring God's hand in the building of the nation.

"Draft after draft was prepared, only to receive major objections," he recalled. "Finally, after it was decided that we could not mention God for fear it might alienate the atheists, I went to

the committee chairmanT and said our

subTcommittee could not reach a conclusion. One by one each of the

subTcommittees came in and reported failure."

In contrast, state organizations to celebrate the bicentennial were successful because "they were not politically balanced," Elder Perry said. "They had but one desire, and that was to bring about a meaningful program that would touch the hearts of the people as we moved forward in this glorious celebration. A great lesson I learned from that experience was that united together with common purpose we can achieve great things, but if we're separated by special interest groups, by our own desires, or trying to promote our own interests, then nothing really happens."

Elder Perry traced the history of the Constitutional Convention, the signing of the document on Sept. 17, 1787, and its subsequent ratification by nine states.

"Who could doubt that divine Providence had brought together a great group of patriots and watched over them step by step, piece by piece, until this tremendous document was in place that gave freedom to this great nation?" he asked. "An inspired document, the Constitution of the United States of America withstood the test of time. Its influence has spread throughout the world. Its guiding principles have been so successful that they've been the model of many other governments as they have modeled theirs after our Constitution."

He gave the incident of Moroni and the Title of Liberty as an example of what can be done "when we find things not in accordance with that which we have received . . .

orT other ideas creeping into our system."