Energetic 'Brother Brigham' portrayed

A dramatic statue portraying a vigorous Brigham Young, unveiled at the Utah State Capitol July 25, stands as a reminder of pioneer legacy, said President Gordon B. Hinckley.

President Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, spoke at the Pioneer Day ceremony held in the state capitol building and attended by many dignitaries and elected officials.The heroic-size statue is the first full-length sculpture of the Church's second president and Utah's first governor to be placed in the rotunda of the capitol. A crowd of some 500 people stood and applauded at the unveiling as the covering of the statue fell away, revealing a younger, clean-shaven "Brother Brigham." The portrait catches him in mid-stride with his coat hanging open and walking stick in use. The pioneer's energy, good nature and stocky build are evident.

The unveiling took place in a ceremony conducted by Angus Belliston, national president of the Sons of Utah Pioneers. He announced that the statue, commissioned by the 1993 Utah Legislature, was paid for entirely by private donations. Chairman of the commission was Donald LeBaron. Also speaking at the ceremony were Truman Clawson, past president of the Brigham Young family, Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, and Salt Lake City Mayor Deedee Corradini. The Utah Symphony Chorus performed several selections in honor of pioneers. James Arrington, widely known for his portrayal of "Brother Brigham," presented concluding remarks, observing, "The statue is in the right place," and, speaking as though he were Brigham Young, "Someday, when I am gone, people can look at that and say, `He was a better man than I thought.' "

Kraig Varner, the artist who created the model for the 81/2-foot, 2,500 pound sculpture, was given a standing ovation. Varner, a graduate of BYU, said he wanted to create a different statue of Brigham Young, whom he called `a dynamic man of the people.'

In his remarks, President Hinckley said, "This statue of Brigham Young, first governor of the territory, statesman, planner, and builder of cities, industrial entrepreneur, and prophet-leader of his people, will hopefully be a reminder to generations yet to come of the price paid by those who have gone before us for the comforts of peace and abundance and security that we enjoy today. God bless the memory of our pioneer builders.

"The magnificent statue, created in heroic size and cast in enduring bronze, will speak of a most remarkable leader's vision to see and faith to do, no matter how great the task or how difficult the obstacle."

He said that nearly a century and half have passed since Brigham Young "looked over this largely barren place and declared, `This is the right place.'

"It did not look promising. . . . Behind on a long trail there were many thousands who had left their comforts of Nauvoo on the Mississippi for the long and uncertain trip and desolation of this unknown valley," said President Hinckley. "Other tens of thousands followed. Some 6,000 died along the way. To invite them and lead them to this outpost was an act of extreme boldness, almost temerity. But he saw what could happen."

He noted that after the pioneers began to settle, gold fever from the 1848 discovery in California began to spread across the nation and touched some of the Mormon pioneers. At this time, President Young addressed members in the old bowery on the temple block. He asked them to stay, promising them the blessings of the Lord as they cultivated the soil. Food will be more valuable than gold, he told them.

Families with undernourished children suffering in the cold listened to his advice, and followed it, said President Hinckley.

"Surely no one living here now, where scores and scores of merchant airplanes land and take off each day bringing people from around the world, surely no one who sits where I sit and has the opportunity to meet the famous of the earth who come in in substantial numbers, surely no one who travels, no one who sees the fruits of the land made possible by the magic of irrigation practiced in this valley in 1847, . . . no one who knew the products of the farmer and the rancher and industry could doubt the vision and faith of the pioneer leader we honor today."

Gov. Leavitt said he recently visited the grave of Brigham Young. "I felt at least in a historic sense a connection to Brigham Young," he said. "I marvel at his remarkable insight in the way he settled this state - the wide streets, the communities spaced in a way that would allow for generations to benefit.

"Perhaps our greatest challenge will be to rekindle the sense of personal responsibility and community values. . . I accept this statue not just as a monument of our past, but as a symbol of our future, so that it may be said of our generation, as it was of him, `All is well.' "

In her remarks, Mayor Corradini observed: "Brigham Young was the leader who helped make Salt Lake City and Utah what they have become today. He was not only the spiritual leader of the pioneers, but also the community, cultural and governmental leader."

She praised the pioneers for their aggressive efforts in providing municipal services and for their long-term vision.

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