Preserve roots to protect collective memory

Richard Turley awarded state DAR medal for efforts

For efforts in historic preservation and compiling family history information, Richard E. Turley Jr., managing director of the Family and Church History Department, was awarded the Daughters of the American Revolution Historic Preservation Medal by the Utah State Society.

The medal was presented during the DAR state conference April 23 by Linda Tinker Watkins, president general of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The organization, which has some 170,000 members in the United States and abroad, requires its members to be lineal descendants of patriots of the American Revolution.

In nominating Brother Turley and honoring the department, Patty Atkinson of Utah's Bear River Chapter, cited such department accomplishments as the restoration of the Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith home in Palmyra, N.Y., the Newel K. Whitney store in Kirtland, Ohio, the publishing on CD of the 1880 U.S. Census, the 1881 British and 1881 Canadian censuses, and the Mormon Emigration Index.

"The Family History Library is visited by more than 2,400 patrons each day," and the Church Historical Library "has a gold mine of information," she said. She also noted that Brother Turley recently published a children's book on the history of Joseph Smith, and is working on a volume about Mountain Meadows.

In responding to the honor, Brother Turley said, " I accept this honor, not on behalf of any work I have done, but on behalf of my many associates, many Church leaders, many Church members and volunteers who have contributed their time, their talents, their money, and resources.

"If we are not aware of our historical roots, we are at risk of losing our collective memory," he said. "The importance of maintaining that memory in the minds and hearts of the American people, in the minds and hearts of individuals whether born in this country or naturalized citizens, is extremely important, and we appreciate this opportunity to share this combined objective we also have."

In remarks at the dinner meeting at a Salt Lake area hotel, president general Watkins lamented America's deteriorating value system.

"Have we so quickly forgotten the lessons learned from only a few decades past?" she asked. "Will we allow the foundations of our moral society to be completely destroyed on the premise of tolerance and free will? . . ."

In paying tribute to patriots of the Revolutionary War, she said, "They were ordinary men whose wealth was more earned than titled. . . . The revolutionaries were, for the most part, common men who had the uncommon idea that God had granted individual lives for the low born as well as the high born. Their legacy to us is that of courage, determination and hope. . . . They prevailed against the greatest power and the greatest empire of that day because they believed that the Almighty was on their side."

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