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In the past 35 years, Church leaders and members have participated in, performed at or planned inauguration festivities for nearly every U.S. president. The following examples are a sample of LDS participation since 1953 in these historic events:


Elder Ezra Taft Benson and his wife, Flora, rode in a convertible down Pennsylvania Avenue waving to the wall of people crowded along the parade route for President Dwight D. Eisenhower's inauguration.

"It seemed to be a dream," the apostle later wrote. "Yet even in the exciting spell of the moment, the awareness of the responsibility that had come to me hovered like a shadow overhead. There would be a time when the crowds were gone."

The shadow came from Elder Benson's knowledge that the next day he would assume the duties of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, according to his biography, Ezra Taft Benson.

Also attending the inauguration was President David O. McKay.


The Church News headlines announced that "Choir Thrills America at Inauguration." President Lyndon B. Johnson invited the Tabernacle Choir to perform at his inauguration.

"This is the greatest single honor that has ever come to the Tabernacle Choir," declared President McKay, who was a personal friend of the new president.

The Church accepted the invitation and the 363 singers and their music director and conductor, Richard P. Condie, packed their bags.

But fog blanketed the Salt Lake Airport, forcing 251 members of the choir to board buses for a nine-hour ride to Las Vegas, Nev., where they caught a flight to Washington. They arrived just three hours before they were to take their places on the Capitol's east side.

The choir's renditions of "Give Me Your Tired," "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "This Is My Country" brought loud ovations.

Afterward, President Johnson telephoned President McKay and said the choir's singing "was the highlight of the inaugural ceremonies."


The choir performed at its second consecutive inauguration, but a major contribution was make by LDS businessman J. Willard Marriott, behind the scenes. Marriott, a prominent Church leader in the Washington, D.C., area, served as chairmann of the inauguration of the President Richard M. Nixon.

Marriott's wife, Alice, served as special assistant to the chairman and supervised the planning of the Distingushed Ladies Reception. Others involved were Robert W. Barker, general counsel for the committee; J. Mark Trice, executive director of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremony, and Jesse R. Smith, special coordinator on the concert committee handling arrangements for the appearance, feeding and housing of the Tabernacle Choir.

At the inauguration, President N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency and Elder Richard L. Evans of the Council of the Twelve represented the Church.


J. Willard Marriott again headed the inaugural committee. BYU's Cougar Band marched in the inaugural parade, and about 30 members of the choir sang at the inaugural religious service.

After the service, President Nixon recommended that all present go to the choir in the Tabernacle.

"I have made a special request that the group sing an additional number at the conclusion of their last number listed on the program," President Nixon said. "I assure you they will sing it better than any other choral group in the world can sing it, as they always do with any number they sing."

Representing the Church at the inauguration was Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve.

"It is gratifying that there was such a spiritual note in the inaugural ceremony," Elder Packer said. "Several prayers were offered and a sense of reverence prevailed at the historic event."


At President Jimmy Carter's inauguration President N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency and his wife, Sara, attended as special guests. Another Church member, Sen. Howard W. Cannon, D-Nev., conducted the inaugural program and served as chairman of the joint committee on arrangements for the inauguration.


The choir returned to the nation's capital for its third appeareance at the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan and participated in the inaugural parade for the first time. The choir's float paused 51/2 minutes in front of the chief executive's review stand to sing "Battle Hymn of the Republic." A CBS television commentator said that if it were possible to "bring the house down at an outdoor parade, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir just did it." President Ezra Taft Benson, then president of the Council of the Twelve, represented the Church at the festivities. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the First Quorum of the Seventy also attended.


President Reagan's second inauguration was less extensive with fewer events Robert W. Barker, a Washington Attorney, was one of the prominent Latter-day Saints involved in the legal aspect of the celebrtation. He served as chairman of the Inaugural Law Committee. Barker had become a mainstay in inaugural planning.

"I don't know of any other person who served in four inaugurations," he said. "It's quite unusual."