After rededicating This Is the Place Monument and Old Deseret Village in Salt Lake City Saturday morning, June 29, President Gordon B. Hinckley traveled to Sun Valley, Idaho, where he was honored by the American Academy of Achievement. On Sunday, June 30, he spoke at a combined sacrament meeting of the Hailey 1st and Hailey 2nd wards and the Sun Valley 1st Branch, Carey Idaho Stake.
President Hinckley was given the Golden Plate Award at the academy's 35th annual "Salute to Excellence" program in recognition of "exceptional accomplishment in the area of public service." The American Academy of Achievement, founded in 1961, is a nonprofit educational organization that annually presents awards to men and women of exceptional accomplishment. President Hinckley and 49 others were honored from the areas of sciences, professions, business, industry, arts, literature, sports, entertainment and public service.In a citation read at the awards banquet about President Hinckley, he was praised for "his followers' special emphasis on the values of hard work, home and family
whichT has brought respect and admiration far beyond the shadows of Utah's mountains . . . and have helped result in the church's impressive growth to more than 9 million adherents around the world."
Other Church leaders honored in the past include Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve, and the late-Presidents Harold B. Lee, Spencer W. Kimball and President N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency.
R. Earl Holding, chairman of the event, owner of Sun Valley Company, presented the award to President Hinckley.
Other honorees this year included Gilbert M. Grosvenor, National Geographic Society president; Amy Grant, a gospel and pop music singer; James Earl Jones, stage and screen actor; Elie Wiesel, recipient of the Noble Prize for Peace; Herbert Kelleher, founder and chairman of Southwest Airlines; Richard McCormick, chairman and president of USWEST; and ABC Television newsman Sam Donaldson.
The academy's primary focus is on the inspiration of youth. This year, 375 high school honor students from across the country were invited by the academy to attend a 21/2-day seminar, during which forums were taught by recipients of the award. President Hinckley's schedule allowed him to be present only for the awards banquet. In his acceptance speech, he encouraged the youth, in all their learning and accomplishments, to remember the statement of the Savior, "Be not faithless, but believing." (John 20:27.)
On June 30, some 700 members gathered in the meetinghouse in the alpine-like setting of Hailey.
In his remarks, President Hinckley commented on the experience of the previous evening at the awards ceremony. He challenged the youth at the Church meeting, saying, "Make something of your lives. It isn't enough to just exist, you must equip yourselves so that you can make a contribution to the society of which we are a part. I want to urge our youth to be hungry for education. Sacrifice for it, work for it, plan for it and do it."
He further told the young people, "Don't let sin cloud your way. Live above it. Be strong, be loyal, be faithful, be true – true to the faith." He encouraged the young men to go on missions, and promised them, "You'll do wonders for those you teach and [serving missions] will do wonders for you." He repeated his often-stated desire to do something for the youth of the Church to encourage them along in their faith.
He urged older couples to serve missions. He said, "You're needed out there. I know it's hard; it's difficult, but it's wonderful." He shared experiences from his recent overseas visits and spoke of how valuable the couples are in serving the Saints and strengthening the Church.
"He closed his remarks by sharing his love with the members. "I love you. I want you to know that," he said.