Moon Walk, July 20, 1969

I grew up in rural Idaho in a home without television. But forty years ago today, our family stopped by a neighbor’s home on the way home from evening church service to watch television coverage of the the moon landing. What a wonderful experience! I had grown up through the age of Sputnik, Vanguard, Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. The first time I can remember being punished for doing something wrong was when I stole paper from my first grade classroom to draw pictures of rockets! To witness the first manned space flight to the moon was fantastic.

Flag on Moon

So today, as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of this event, I tip my hat again to all those who made it possible – from President Kennedy who challenged the nation to accomplish this incredible feat – to the engineers who used slide rules, not handheld calcualtors, to design the equipment – to the brave astronauts who had the privilege to make the journey. Bravo all!

Henry Allingham: British War Veteran

CNN.Europe reported today that Henry Allingham, the world’s oldest man and the oldest surviving British veteran from World War I, died at the age of 113.

Henry AllinghamMore than than simply his longevity, I was impressed with the consistency of Mr. Allingham’s commitment to the cause of freedom through his long, productive life. He joined the Royal Naval Air Service as a mechanic in 1915, served in World War I, and was a founding member of the Royal Air Force in 1918. He was called up from the reserve air force during World War II to help find a solution to German magnetic mines.

Many thanks to Mr. Allingham and all of his generation, who defended the cause of freedom for all of us.

Martin Luther King: Let Freedom Ring

Martin Luther King“Let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

“Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

“Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

“And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'”

Martin Luther King, from “I Have a Dream” speech at March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963, Washington, D.C.

Thomas Jefferson: Liberty is a Gift of God

Thomas Jefferson“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

Thomas Jefferson, Third President of the United States, Principal Author of the Declaration of Independence

Woodrow Wilson: Source of Liberty

Woodrow Wilson“Liberty has never come from government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of government. The history of liberty is a history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of limitations of government power, not the increase of it.”

Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States, from a speech in New York City, September 9, 1912

John Adams: Celebrating the Declaration

John AdamsThe Declaration of Independence “will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore.”

John Adams, 2nd President of the United States.

Dallin Oaks: Choice and Responsibility

Dallin H. Oaks“We are responsible to use our agency in a world of choices. It will not do to pretend that our agency has been taken away when we are not free to exercise it without unwelcome consequences.”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks: Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, quoted in “Moral Agency,” Ensign, Jun 2009, 46-53.

Todd Christofferson: Moral Agency

Todd ChristoffersonElder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published an excellent article entitled Moral Agency in the June issue of the Ensign magazine. A few key excerpts:

When we use the term moral agency, we are appropriately emphasizing the accountability that is an essential part of the divine gift of agency. We are moral beings and agents unto ourselves, free to choose but also responsible for our choices. …

What, then, are the elements of moral agency? To me there are three.

  • There must be alternatives among which to choose.
  • For us to have agency, we must not only have alternatives, but we must also know what they are.
  • The next element of agency is the freedom to make choices. This freedom to act for ourselves in choosing among alternatives is often referred to in the scriptures as agency itself. …

Freedom of choice is the freedom to obey or disobey existing laws-not the freedom to alter their consequences. …

Remember that with His gift of moral agency, our Heavenly Father has graciously provided us help to exercise that agency in a way that will yield precious, positive fruit in our life here and hereafter.

In our modern world where philosophies of moral relativism is rampant, it is comforting to read clarifying words from an apostle of Christ that emphasize both the grandeur of moral agency and our individual responsibility to wisely act according to divine law within that God-given gift.

From a devotional address delivered January 31, 2006, at Brigham Young University.

Abraham Lincoln: We Have Forgotten God

Abraham Lincoln“We have been recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown; but we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”

Abraham Lincoln: From a proclamation issued March 30, 1863, for a national day of fasting and prayer to be observed on April 30, 1863, as quoted in American Quotations, p. 68.