Utah Gov. Gary Herbert joined the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square Sept. 18 in observing what emcee Duane Cardall of KSL Television called "one of the most significant yet under-celebrated events in American history," the signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787.
The event in the Salt Lake Tabernacle was presented by the Utah Chapter of Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge before a capacity audience.
Acknowledging that he was "preaching to the choir," – in this case a remark that was literally true – Gov. Herbert posed the question of why Americans are so blessed.
"The short answer is that freedom works," he declared.
There are responsibilities and challenges in preserving freedom, Gov. Herbert noted.
"All of us can do something," he said. "We can become informed. We can learn the issues. We can vote. We can tell a friend. We can run for office. We can help somebody else run for office. We can send a letter to our congressmen, to the mayor, to the councilmen, even to the governor.
Gov. Herbert admonished the audience to be bold in standing up for principles and values that made the country great.
Conducted by musical director Mack Wilberg, the choir and orchestra performed a half-dozen patriotic and American folk song selections, culminating at the end of the program with their signature song, "Battle Hymn of the Republic," bringing a frenzied standing ovation from the audience.
In a flag ceremony at the beginning of the program, Boy Scouts bound for next year's National Jamboree posted nearly a score of American flags in front of the Tabernacle's towering organ pipes.
Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge was formed 60 yeas ago to foster and encourage education among American citizens about the rights and responsibilities of a free and democratic society. Its first chairman was Dwight D. Eisenhower, president of the United States.
The U.S. Constitution, the supreme law of the land, was adopted 222 years ago by a Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pa., and thereafter ratified by conventions in each state. Its first 10 amendments are known as the Bill of Rights, the first of which prohibits government interference in freedom of the press, speech, religion and assembly.
It is the shortest and oldest written constitution still in use by any federation in the world, and, as Gov. Herbert noted in his address, has been used as a model by other nations in formulating their own constitutions.
In revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord justified His servants in "befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land" (98:6) and said that it "should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles" (101:77).