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Many celebrations honored Prophet

A milestone anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith has been celebrated in many ways during 2005. But the 200th anniversary isn't the only one so distinguished.

Fifty years ago, a young counselor in the East Mill Creek Stake presidency named Gordon B. Hinckley delivered a radio address helping mark the sesquicentennial of the Prophet's birth. On Sunday, Dec. 18, 1955, he began his address on NBC's "Faith in Action" series with remarks about the Christmas celebration marking the birth of Christ, according to the Dec. 24, 1955, Church News.

Then he said, "One hundred and fifty years ago — on December 23, 1805 — Joseph Smith was born in an obscure village in the White River country of Vermont." The rest of his address was an account of the life and achievements of the man who restored the Church of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps the most ambitious anniversary event previously came in 1905 when a monument was raised and was dedicated by the Prophet's nephew, President Joseph F. Smith, on Dec. 23, at the site of Joseph Smith's birthplace in Vermont. For the bicentennial celebration, President Hinckley decided to go to Vermont to acknowledge this great event in the history of the world.

As President Joseph F. Smith was conducting ceremonies at the birthplace in Sharon, Vt., there were also celebratory events in Salt Lake City, as is the case this year. A headline concerning Joseph Smith in the Dec. 25, 1905, Deseret News reads: "Great Multitude Assemble in the Tabernacle to Respect His Memory."

The article reported, "A scene strikingly magnificent was that which presented itself at the Tabernacle yesterday morning on the occasion of the exercises commemorative of the one hundredth anniversary of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The building had been beautifully decorated in white, which, intermingled with holly palms and potted plants, made an excellent foreground for a dually descriptive scene of the birth of the Savior and the Prophet Joseph."

A welcome was extended during the meeting to "the honored guests of the occasion, consisting of two dozen or more gray-haired veterans who were acquainted with the Prophet Joseph."

On the 125th anniversary in 1930, Elder Melvin J. Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve paid tribute to Joseph Smith in the Tabernacle on Dec. 21.

He said, according to the Deseret News, "One hundred twenty-five years ago, day after tomorrow, there was born into the world one destined, in the providences of God, to do more to contribute to the world's real knowledge of the mission and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ than any one who has lived E-mail to:[email protected]