Peace is a worldwide desire, said President Dieter F. Uchtdorf during an Utah Air National Guard devotional Feb. 8.
More than 400 members of the guard attended the Sunday morning devotional, which began at 6:30 a.m., in a hangar at the Utah Air National Guard Base near the Salt Lake City International Airport. During the service Chaplain Bruce Brewer offered the invocation and Staff Sgt. Jack Sommer the benediction, while Chaplain Gregory Clark offered remarks and introduced President Uchtdorf.
Among those in attendance were Major General Brian Tarbet, Adjutant General of the Utah National Guard; Brigadier General David Hooper, Commander of the Utah Air National Guard; and Colonel Kelvin Findley, Commander of the 151st Air Refueling Wing, as well as other military leaders.
Second counselor in the First Presidency, President Uchtdorf fit well in the setting. He served six years in the German Air Force as a fighter pilot. He was senior vice president of Lufthansa German Airlines' flight operations and chief pilot at the time he was called as a General Authority in 1994. As a pilot, he said, he traveled to almost all parts of the world. "As I did, I tried to draw close to the people of the world regardless of culture, regardless of language, regardless of religion," he recalled. "I had the privilege to do that all over the world. I learned that we all have similar desires. We desire security for self and family. We desire prosperity, happiness, and especially peace."
He spoke of having gone through pilot training in the U.S. Air Force in Texas. "There was an Air National Guard F-102 squadron there," he said. "I always thought, 'Boy, that is the best of two worlds. They work in their civil lives during the week and then on the weekend they have a chance to fly beautiful planes and do something great.'
"Of course, there is always a serious background. Perhaps in the past we might have thought of National Guard service as piling up sacks when a flood is coming or flying humanitarian help somewhere. It is really being called into hot war. The Utah National Guard has had a large share. Thousands of you have served and are serving overseas and seeing the difference between peace and war.
"As we assemble this morning in such a peaceful congregation, we know that peace is not just absence of war. Peace is much more than that. ... You, as citizen soldiers, have a special peace in your hearts, even the peace of God. I think that is what the peace of a soldier is."
Further, he said, "Peace is something we must try to protect. First of all, we need to have it in our hearts. Of course, we all know that even out of war great things can come about."
President Uchtdorf said he liked the definition of peace as "harmony with one's self and with God and man."
"I believe that the Son of God, even Jesus Christ, gave us the promise, 'Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid' (John 14:27). This peace comes only through faith in Jesus Christ, Son of the living God in Heaven. As we have faith and confidence and trust in Him, knowing that He will help us to find peace within ourselves, with that effort, with this small seed within ourselves, we can have peace around us and in all the world."
"The anchor in our life — especially for you who are serving your country and are ready and able to go any place in the world and have taken an oath to protect the liberty of your country — the anchor of your life and the ability to do what you need to do is, I believe, your strong faith and confidence that there is a living God, that He is there to be with you."
President Uchtdorf said peace of mind and heart comes in "knowing our true identity as sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. Understanding these principles can help us to answer the often-asked question, 'How do we live with each others' deepest differences?"
He spoke of having witnessed "democracy in action" at the inauguration of President Barack Obama, where he saw the peaceful transfer of power. "Even with great differences in political views, there was graciousness and a unity of peace there. I would like to congratulate you for your country, for the wonderful way this democracy is being practiced and is being shown to all throughout the world. That is what liberty is all about."
President Uchtdorf said service is what makes life satisfying and worthwhile. "You are people who render service. A commitment to service, whether in wartime or in time of peace, is the hallmark of the citizen-soldier. You are such a hallmark. I honor you. Citizen-soldiers, whether they render service in time of war or peace, make a sacrifice by extending helping hands to all. As you do this, in your hearts and minds you will record the richest memories."
The majority attending the Utah Air National Guard devotional were Latter-day Saints. After he had directed some comments to them, President Uchtdorf said, "You who are my brothers in arms but not of my faith might be surprised that the statue on top of our temples, the angel Moroni, is a statue of a soldier. I believe there is considerable significance that all of the righteous men whom the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ might have chosen to abridge the records of the Nephite civilization into the Book of Mormon, which has great relevance to today's world, He chose Mormon and Moroni, two soldiers, for that sacred work."
He spoke of other soldiers in the Book of Mormon and said, "They were soldiers because they had to be, because their people needed them, because it was the right thing to do. Is that not also the case with you, my dear friends? Each of you can take comfort in the sweet assurance that the Lord knows of your service and he knows of your devotion to righteous principles. Of one soldier in the Book of Mormon it was said, and I hope it is said of all of us when our life comes to a conclusion, 'If all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto him [or unto her] behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children'" (Alma 48:17).
In concluding his remarks, President Uchtdorf said, "Always remember your service and your core values: God, family, country. Always look forward to the things which lie ahead. Trust God. Have confidence in Him and His promptings. Have faith in God and the Savior Jesus Christ. Work hard and work smart. Take time to reflect on life and 'be still and know that [He is] God.' You are truly mighty men and women of valor."