John F Kennedy
“Of all the stories of American pioneers and settlers, none is more inspiring than the Mormon trail. The qualities of the founders of this community are the qualities that we seek in America, the qualities which we like to feel this country has, courage, patience, faith, self-reliance, perseverance, and, above all, an unflagging determination to see the right prevail. I know that many of you in this State and other States sometimes wonder where we are going and why the United States should be so involved in so many affairs, in so many countries all around the globe.
If our task on occasion seems hopeless, if we despair of ever working our will on the other 94 percent of the world population, then let us remember that the Mormons of a century ago were a persecuted and prosecuted minority, harried from place to place, the victims of violence and occasionally murder, while today, in the short space of 100 years, their faith and works are known and respected the world around, and their voices heard in the highest councils of this country. As the Mormons succeeded, so America can succeed, if we will not give up or turn back.”
Famous filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille (in commencement address at BYU)
“I have known many members of your church — and I have never known one who was not a good citizen and a fine, wholesome person — but David O. McKay embodies, more than anyone that I have ever known, the virtues and the drawing-power of your church.
“David McKay, almost thou persuadest me to be a Mormon! And knowing what family life means to the Latter-day Saints, I cannot speak or think of President McKay without thinking too of that gracious and spirited young lady who is his wife.”
From Leo Tolstoy
Count Leo Tolstoy, Russian author and statesman, in conversation with Andrew D. White, United States foreign minister to Russia, in 1892 said, “I wish you would tell me about your American religion.”
“We have no state church in America,” replied Dr. White.
“I know that, but what about your American religion?”
Dr. White explained to Tolstoy that in America each person is free to belong to the particular church in which he is interested.
Tolstoy impatiently replied: “I know all of this, but I want to know about the American religion. … The church to which I refer originated in America and is commonly known as the Mormon Church. What can you tell me of the teachings of the Mormons?”
Doctor White said, “I know very little concerning them.”
Then Count Leo Tolstoy rebuked the ambassador. “Dr. White, I am greatly surprised and disappointed that a man of your great learning and position should be so ignorant on this important subject. Their principles teach the people not only of heaven and its attendant glories, but how to live so that their social and economic relations with each other are placed on a sound basis. If the people follow the teachings of this church, nothing can stop their progress—it will be limitless.”
Tolstoy continued, “There have been great movements started in the past but they have died or been modified before they reached maturity. If Mormonism is able to endure, unmodified, until it reaches the third and fourth generation, it is destined to become the greatest power the world has ever known.”
From Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré
“For a long time I have talked about being individually prepared,” he said. “I have talked about community preparedness and government preparedness because we know on any given day Mother Nature can break anything built by man. I think what the church has demonstrated and what it continues to demonstrate is what happens when you create a culture of preparedness within an organization.”
Honoré said that when disasters hit it is the poor and vulnerable who often suffer because they have a tendency to live in less-secure shelters. He cited a quote he saw mounted on the wall in Welfare Square from the Prophet Joseph Smith that reads:
We are “to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to provide for the widow, to dry up the tear of the orphan, to comfort the afflicted, whether in this church, or any other, or no church at all.”
Honoré said he was impressed to see the commitment of the church to serving the poor with, not a “hand out,” but instead a “hand up.” He said seeing the church’s operation on television would be nothing compared to seeing it in person.
“This is real,” he said. “This is the commitment of a people who know how to grow the food, process it, can it, distribute it and put it in the hands of the people who need it. This is phenomenal.”
He said the depth and breadth of the operation and the church’s “commitment to excellence in transportation” was “most impressive.”
“I’ve been to many a factory where food and personal things are kept,” he said. “The cleanliness was beyond anything I’d ever seen before. You’ve got people dusting in warehouses; I’ve never seen that before.”
President Warren G. Harding
Called Utah children “Utah’s best crop.” “I do not know when I have seen so many happy, smiling, sturdy children in so short a period of travel.”
Walter Cronkite about performing with the Tabernacle Choir
“I hope that somewhere, Mom and Dad are proud that little Walter is performing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I have never been a religious person in the conventional sense, but I have felt nearer to my God the past couple of days than ever before.”
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