From his days as a missionary in Great Britain through his early employment as secretary of the Church Radio, Publicity and Mission Literature Committee to now, President Gordon B. Hinckley has revered the historical legacy that pervades the Church.
On Oct. 17, 1962, as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, he told a BYU student body: "What a tremendous thing it is to be part of a Church that has a great heritage, . . . that speaks of faith and courage and sacrifice and giving. If we ever lose it, we had better close up shop."
President Hinckley has done a number of things to help ensure that the heritage is not lost. Here are some highlights:
He carried on the dream of his father, Bryant S. Hinckley, to restore historic Nauvoo, Ill., and dedicated a number of historic sites there, including the temple block after the Church obtained title to it. This culminated with his breaking ground on Oct. 24, 1999, for a reconstruction of the Nauvoo Temple.
Two other locations with historic significance in the Church were chosen under his presidency as sites for temples. The Palmyra New York Temple was dedicated on April 6, 2000, just a short distance from the Sacred Grove where Joseph Smith's First Vision occurred. And the Winter Quarters Temple at Omaha, Neb., is under construction at the site of the temporary settlement where exiled Latter-day Saints from Nauvoo, Ill., readied themselves to continue their 1847 trek to the Salt Lake Valley.
Under his presidency, plans were announced April 17, 2000, to restore or reconstruct six facilities in Kirtland, Ohio, that were prominent in Church history during the 1830s.
He dedicated the recreated log tabernacle at Kanesville (present-day Council Bluffs), Iowa, on July 13, 1996, in which Brigham Young was sustained as president of the Church in December 1847.
He dedicated the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters on April 18, 1997.
Under his leadership, the Church acquired the Sun Ranch in Wyoming which afforded access to the federal land that includes Martin's Cove, where he dedicated a visitors center May 3, 1997, that honors the members of the ill-fated Martin Handcart Company. And on July 23, 1994, he dedicated a monument at the summit of Rocky Ridge to honor the members of the Willie Handcart Company who also suffered greatly.
In Utah in recent years, he has dedicated or re-dedicated a number of sites commemorating the courage and sacrifice of Latter-day Saint pioneers, including This Is the Place Monument, Ensign Peak Nature Trail and the Brigham Young Historic Park in downtown Salt Lake City.
He authored a concise treatise on Church History titled Truth Restored which has been used for many years by missionaries in the Church.