A century ago, President Joseph F. Smith extended a special assignment to Junius F. Wells, organizer of what would become the present-day Young Men organization.
"You go back to Vermont," directed President Smith, "and see if you can do something to honor the memory of the birth of the Prophet."
Brother Wells completed his task, overcoming several obstacles before erecting a 38 1/2-foot long piece of granite that stands today as the Joseph Smith Monument.
President Gordon B. Hinckley shared the history of that monument May 11 when he was honored by the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation with an award bearing Junius F. Wells' name.
"Joseph F. Smith went back with 24 of his associates and dedicated that monument, the 23rd of December, 1905," President Hinckley said. "Today, it stands there as pristine and beautiful, more so, than ever before because of the way that the grounds have been treated and the cottage has been dressed up, which was constructed also by Junius Wells, into a magnificent and beautiful site."
Today, the monument remains on Dairy Hill on the site of the Solomon Mack Farm, where Joseph Smith came into the world 200 years ago.
It was President Joseph F. Smith who ordered that a monument be built in 1905 to honor the birth of the Church's founder. In 2005, President Smith's modern-day successor, President Gordon B. Hinckley, again honored the life and mission of Joseph Smith in several member meetings around the world.
During his comments on May 15 during the Ohio Valley Stake Conference satellite broadcast, President Hinckley spoke of a visit the Angel Moroni made to Joseph Smith. The angel told young Joseph that God had a work for him and that Joseph's name should be had "for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues."
"What a wonderful statement," said President Hinckley. "What a truly remarkable thing that an angel of God would say to a young man . . . who was part of a family of obscure farmers with little education and very little income, and living in an inconspicuous rural area that his 'name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.' "
Yet, today there are almost 2,700 stakes of Zion counted across the globe.
"If your faith begins to falter a little, don't you ever forget the miracle of the boy Joseph Smith and what he did as the prophet of the Lord," said President Hinckley at a May 21 member meeting in San Antonio, Texas. "(Joseph Smith) lived for only 38 and a half years. I've lived two and a half times as long as Joseph Smith and I haven't done anything like that, and neither will you."
In a Feb. 12 broadcast to members in Australia, President Hinckley said Joseph Smith was the Lord's instrument in bringing forth the Book of Mormon.
"For 175 years now, it has been before the world for all to see and read," he said. "Its validity has been attacked from the day of its first publication. But no criticism has prevailed against it. It has come speaking as a voice from the dust with words of testimony concerning the reality and majesty of our Lord."
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