Choir honored for love of God, country

Freedoms foundation salutes patriotic ‘American institution’

Calling the Mormon Tabernacle Choir an "American institution," the president of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge presented to the choir one of its distinguished National Recognition Medals.

"Today is a very proud day for the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge," said Robert Miller at the Nov. 20 presentation in the Tabernacle on Temple Square, which followed the choir's weekly Sunday morning broadcast. "Today we salute one of America's great institutions . . . a magnificent group of musicians that for years and years has stood for patriotism, for love of God and love of country. They have made us proud to be Americans."President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, accepted the award in behalf of the choir and the Church.

"This choir, like the venerable Thomas Moore, is a choir for all seasons," observed President Monson. "We are grateful to share its talent with the world."

President Monson praised the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge for its work in teaching people about America's history and instilling patriotism and pride in their hearts. "When we build, let us think that we build forever," he said, quoting English essayist John Ruskin and referring to the foundation's great work. "Let it not be for present use nor for present delight alone, but let it be such work that our descendants will thank us for it and will be led in their hearts to say, `This our fathers did for us.'

"When we safeguard (the heavenly virtue of freedom), when we honor it, when we protect it, we will walk with Washington, we will pray with patriots, and we shall have peace on earth, good will to men," President Monson concluded.

The medal presented to the 320-voice choir was one of only four presented nationally this year, explained Miller. Recipients were selected by an independent jury board. Other 1988 winners include General Motors Corporation, the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary, and Nancy Reagan, wife of President Ronald Reagan.

During the brief presentation ceremony, the choir sang a medley of patriotic songs, accompanied by the 15th Air Force Band, which performed during the earlier broadcast.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has recorded numerous albums of patriotic music. The group has also performed at several presidential inaugurations and this past summer was an official cultural representative of the United States at events in Australia commemorating the 200th anniversary of the founding of that country.

"The choir is simply delighted with this recognition," said choir president Wendell Smoot. "We're proud of the history of this nation and we're thrilled indeed when we can receive a recognition like this for our many years of bringing honor to our country through our singing."