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Sunday, July 23, 2017

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf will serve as the "Days of '47" KSL Parade Grand Marshal

Hello, all! As any who have read my recent posts know, up until today, the question of who will serve as the Grand Marshal of the "Days of '47" KSL Parade has been somewhat of a question mark. As you also likely know, the annual parade has been held on July 24 in Utah every year since 1849. The first such parade was held two years after the first Church leaders entered the Salt Lake Valley for the first time. Traditionally, a member of the Church's First Presidency has served as the Grand Marshal each year, with First Presidency members rotating that responsibility. In 2014 (prior to scaling down his duties for the first time), President Thomas S. Monson served as Grand Marshal. The next year, it was President Henry B. Eyring that did so.

Then last year, the precedent was broken when Elder M. Russell Ballard, a senior apostle, was asked to take on that role. Elder Ballard was likely given that opportunity because with the health struggles which President Monson and Sister Kathleen Eyring, wife of President Eyring, were experiencing, President Uchtdorf was needed to carry on the responsibilities of the First Presidency. But my favorite local news, KSL, just ran a story about the parade for this year, and President Uchtdorf will serve as Grand Marshal this year. That was exciting to hear about, especially as President Uchtdorf, as a German refugee, has a unique understanding of what it's like to leave his home in view of an unfavorable political and religious climate.

President Uchtdorf has long been a favorite of mine. I have always appreciated the kindness, compassion,and unique perspective he brings to everything he talks about in General Conference. While it is true that President Monson's two counselors were still comparatively junior apostles in 2008 when President Monson selected them to serve at his side (as only Elders Bednar and Cook were more junior), the nine years between now and then has seen them rise in seniority to now being the 7th (President Eyring) and the 8th (President Uchtdorf). Both of them have brought a unique perspective to their service and ministry, and are extraordinarily well qualified to carry on the day-to-day work of the First Presidency, which they have done remarkably well in the two months since the Church announced that President Monson would step away from an active role. And there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the six who are their senior apostles unequivocally support these two men.

But getting back to the "Days of '47" Parade, no matter where life has taken me personally, I always make sure to watch that parade each year. I am so grateful to live in a state that traces its origins back to pioneers and that marks the celebration of those origins with a state holiday. And, as I do every year, I hope that this Pioneer Day will provide me an opportunity to reflect on those pioneers from all countries, religions, and ethnic origins who have made a difference for those like me who would follow in their footsteps.

On this eve of Pioneer Day, may we all remember such sacrifices and determine for ourselves that we will become pioneers in our own right, and that we will be true to the heritage they left us and expand that legacy to those who will follow us and who will hopefully look at our stories and recognize the difference we have made for them. That this may be true for all of us is my humble prayer in the sacred name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.