For 100 years the golden statue has raised its long trumpet to greet each morning's dawn in a silent welcome, the flowing robes reflecting the day's passage. And under its arm, a book.
Moroni, the man, would undoubtedly have been astonished at the tribute paid to him.One hundred years ago on April 6, 1892, the Deseret News reported on the celebration of the laying of the capstone of the Salt Lake Temple after 40 years of construction. That capstone became the base for what the newspaper said was a "figure of gigantic proportions, being twelve feet, five and a half inches in height. The ideas conveyed by the statue is that of a herald, or messenger, in the act of blowing a trumpet. . . . Its effect is beautiful."
Beautiful indeed. The statue since has become a symbol of the restored gospel. Today, the statue of Moroni graces many temples.
All of this, of course, because of the pivotal role that Moroni played in the restoration of the gospel. It was he, as a resurrected being, who delivered the ancient scriptures containing the record of his people to Joseph Smith. Translated, they became the Book of Mormon and set into motion the great events of this age.
But behind the symbolism and the extraordinary role he played was a man whose story is unlike that of any other. It's a story of great sadness and loneliness and of enormous dedication and faith.
We first meet Moroni in the twilight of the Nephite civilization. Mormon, the great abridger of the Nephite records, who was battered by the wars that decimated his people, wrote that he and his son, Moroni, were among only 24 survivors of the final great conflict. Moroni was a warrior, a leader of 10,000 who were hewn down.
He was a survivor and a writer. In one of the most moving passages in scripture, he wrote, ". . . The Nephites who had escaped into the country southward were hunted by the Lamanites, until they were all destroyed.
"And my father also was killed by them, and I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone, and I fulfil the commandment of my father. And whether they will slay me, I know not.
"Therefore I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and wither I go it mattereth not." He wrote that he would have written more, but he had no ore, "for I am alone. My father hath been slain in battle, and all my kinsfolk, and I have not friends nor whither to go; and how long the Lord will suffer that I may live I know not." (Mormon 8: 2-5.)
He finished the record, abridged the ancient (even to him) records of the Jaredites, and thought he was finished.
To his surprise, Moroni was not killed immediately. Years later, he reopened the book and wrote the Book of Moroni. "I have not as yet perished, and I make not myself known to the Lamanites lest they should destroy me," he explained, "For behold, their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves, and because of their hatred they put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ." (Moroni 1:1-2.)
But Moroni said he would not "deny the Christ," for he had seen Jesus and had talked with him face to face. (Ether 12:39.) And so he accepted his solitary life, wandering the land, knowing his testimony would be needed in the future.
And what a testimony it is! Fourteen hundred years later he returned to the earth in glory, visiting a startled Joseph Smith, guiding him to the buried records and instructing him on their importance. In all, he appeared many times over a period of six years, until finally receiving the precious records back into his care.
As a prophet, he distilled his experience into counsel for all ages. From his lonely time he addressed ours: "The spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God." (Moroni 7:16.)
Finally, addressing the whole body of work that he and his father had abridged, he gave the challenge which has stirred thousands of people into believing in Christ:
"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
"And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."(Moroni 10:4-5.)