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Olympic torch arrives in Salt Lake City

First Presidency salutes effort

Olympic torch arrives in Salt Lake City

First Presidency salutes effort

Amid cheers of several thousand onlookers who braved cold temperatures, the Olympic flame paused on the steps of the Church Administration Building in downtown Salt Lake City Thursday evening, Feb. 7.

The flame was taken by Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve up the building’s steps to President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, who held it up for all to see before passing it along to President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency. Amid cheers, President Monson handed the flame to President Gordon B. Hinckley.

Holding the torch aloft, President Hinckley said: “Tonight we join in saluting the people of Salt Lake City who have brought these Games here. We thank them for their great efforts. We salute the state of Utah, whose party this is. We salute the United States of America, the host country of these Games. We salute the whole world as they join in celebrations of excellence. We salute the officials who have worked so hard and who have gathered from over the world to make of this a great success. And most of all, we salute the athletes who will join in a great contest of excellence.

“To every one we extend our gratitude and best wishes. Let this be a great and historic and wonderful occasion for everyone who joins with us here in this beautiful city and in this great mountain place of beauty, extending best wishes, our congratulations and our gratitude.

“All in favor, raise your hands and salute them,” he invited the enthusiastic onlookers who raised their hands and cheered.

President Hinckley passed the flame to Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve, who threaded his way through the cheering and applauding crowd. He proceeded east on South Temple to State Street, sending the flame on its way to the Salt Lake City County Building where it spent the night before embarking on the final day of the relay.

2000 Olympic medalist Courtney Johnson, an alumus of Skyline High School, carries the Olympic torch through This Is the Place Heritage Park on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2002.

2000 Olympic Medalist Courtney Johnson, an alumus of Skyline High School, carries the Olympic torch through This is the Place Heritage Park Thursday, Feb. 7, 2002.

Credit: Kevin Lee, Deseret News

The Olympic flame made a historic entrance earlier in the day as cheering, flag-waving spectators lined the wagon-rutted trail into This Is The Place Heritage Park.

As the Olympic torch made its initial entry into Salt Lake City, carried by Alan S. Layton, president of Days of ’47, there was striking symbolism and historic parallel to be drawn.

At about 4:45 p.m., the torch descended Emigration Canyon, the route into the Salt Lake Valley taken by President Brigham Young and the Pioneers of 1847. It stopped at This Is The Place Heritage Park, with its monolithic monument topped by a bronze statue of President Young and fellow apostles Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards.

It was on this spot — or near it — that President Young, according to Wilford Woodruff’s recollection, “was enwrapped in vision for several minutes. He had seen the valley before in vision, and upon this occasion he saw the future glory of Zion and of Israel, as they would be, planted in the valleys of these mountains. When the vision had passed, he said, ‘It is enough. This is the right place. Drive on.’ ” (In “Pioneers’ Day,” Deseret Evening News, July 26, 1880, p. 2.)

The world didn’t watch or care on July 24, 1847, when President Young led his company of persecuted refugees into the valley. But, as the motto for the torch relay has been “Light the fire within,” the 19th century pioneers had a fire burning within their hearts as they endured adversity and hardship to accomplish the Lord’s purpose to establish Zion in the tops of the mountains.

In homage to their “fire within,” the torch entered the park in a horse-drawn carriage containing dignitaries, including actor James Arrington in the persona of Brigham Young, a portrayal he has popularized for many years. Members of the modern Mormon Battalion fife and drum corps raised the flag, and fired a cannon.

Near the base of the monument, actor Arrington said, “I want you to know this is the right place, and has always been the right place. It is just that the world finally discovered that and has come here. What a wonderful thing it is to bring this Olympic flame all the way from its place in Greece. We welcome it here, we honor it here, we intend to celebrate it here. Thank you all. Let’s give it a hip, hip, hurrah!”

The crowd, estimated at from 20,000 to 30,000, gladly obliged.

Thereafter, the torch was carried past a bronze statue memorializing the Pony Express — which ran through Salt Lake City during its short-lived history — and continued on into downtown Salt Lake City.

— Gerry Avant and R. Scott Lloyd

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