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Olympic spirit rekindled

Salt Lake City celebrates first anniversary of 2002 Winter Games

A year has passed since the world visited Salt Lake City for the 2002 Winter Games. For 17 memorable days millions tuned in to watch some of the world's finest athletes gather for peaceful competition and, in the process, learn something of Salt Lake City, Utah's capital city and headquarters for the Church.

Thousands of Church members performed pivotal roles ensuring the success of the Games. A few, such as recently-elected Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Fraser Bullock, assumed visible leadership roles. Thousands of other Church members worked behind the scenes as Olympic volunteers, offering largely invisible but vital service during the Olympics and subsequent Paralympic Games.

Fireworks illuminate the Feb. 8 celebration marking the first anniversary of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Fireworks illuminate the Feb. 8 celebration marking the first anniversary of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Photo: Photo by Keith Johnson

Thousands pulled on their gloves and stocking caps Feb. 8, 2003, to rekindle the memories of the historic event and celebrate the re-igniting of the flame in the Olympic caldron outside the University of Utah's Rice-Eccles Stadium, which had been Olympic Stadium. Some 3 billion tuned in last year to watch the Olympic's opening ceremonies at the stadium in a spectacle that included performances by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Members of the Choir bundled up once again to perform during the Feb. 8 anniversary celebration, including a rendition of "Call of the Champions," the official musical theme of the 2002 Winter Games.

The celebration included video highlights from the Games, along with appearances by Olympic athletes, local elected leaders and comments from Elder Bullock, president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and an Area Authority Seventy. Gov. Romney, who directed SLOC during the Games, could not attend the Feb. 8 celebration but did attend the unveiling of the Games' "Wall of Honor" in Salt Lake City the day before. The wall honors the efforts of the Olympic volunteers and workers.

In the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Sunday evening, Feb. 9, the Church hosted the Second Annual Interfaith Musical Tribute to the Human Spirit. A diverse program of music, dancing and inspirational messages was featured from representatives of Native American, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Baha'i, Buddhist and Islamic faiths. Latter-day Saint offerings comprised a performance by the Orchestra at Temple Square, "Allegro con Brio" from Symphony No. 7 by Beethoven; and a prelude on the Tabernacle Organ from Temple Square organist Bonnie Goodliffe, Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze."

In words of greeting, Presiding Bishop H. David Burton explained that the Interfaith Roundtable was organized as part of the Olympic effort to recruit and train chaplains to serve the Olympic athletes. "In addition the Roundtable members sought, by working together, to make people of the world of all religious faiths and traditions feel welcome in Salt Lake City," he said. "A vitally important by-product of this effort was an increase in respect and understanding of those of various faiths here in the city who carried out this work."

He recounted that last year, on the Sunday before the opening of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, the first Interfaith Tribute to the Human Spirit was held in the Catholic Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City. Its success encouraged Roundtable members to make it an annual event.

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, and Elder Fraser Bullock attend Feb. 7 unveiling of the "Wall of Honor" that pays tribute to Olympic volunteers.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs at chilly event.

Folks clad in Olympic volunteer garb gather for Feb. 7 "Wall of Fame" unveiling ceremony in Salt Lake City. Scores of Church members spent several weeks last year volunteering during the Games.

Interfaith Musical Tribute to the Human Spirit is presented in Tabernacle Feb. 9.

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