Church members, community leaders and government officials in New Mexico paid tribute recently to members of the Mormon Battalion – called "visionary men" who blazed trails through the state 150 years ago.
Daryl Garn, an area authority in the North American Southwest Area, rededicated a 20-foot native stone monument completed in September to replace a monument built in 1940.The original monument was made with help from Church members in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Los Alamos, N.M. In 1962, it was razed when the highway running between Albuquerque and Santa Fe was widened during construction of Interstate 25.
The replica of the original monument used the wagon wheel and plaque from the original monument at a site located halfway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe – marking a point on the historic route traveled by the Mormon Battalion as it left Santa Fe in 1846.
The night before the dedication, Elder Garn spoke to more than 500 people gathered at a fireside. He asked the audience to ponder the blessings that they have received from the consecrated efforts and sacrifices of those who have preceded them.
Elder Garn said it is important to remember not only the heritage of the Mormon Battalion, but also the great legacy given to the Church and the world by the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Pres. Stan Hatch of the Albuquerque New Mexico Stake remarked on the importance of identifying and remembering "our worthy heritage."
State Sen. Joseph Carraro and State Rep. Gerald Weeks noted the close cooperation between members of the Church and government officials in preserving part of New Mexico's heritage. They also praised Church members who are making a contribution in New Mexico today with their strong families and values.
The next day, on Sept. 7, more than 700 people attended the monument dedication. Before dedicating the monument, Elder Garn again spoke on the faith of those who came before. He told the members they must show faith in their lives.
At the conclusion of his remarks, Elder Garn dedicated the memorial as a place where "all those who visit the site will rededicate themselves, and be reminded to improve their own lives."