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As America's Freedom Festival began Sunday night, Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reminded his audience that America's freedom started with leaders like George Washington.

Elder Perry was speaking at the inaugural fireside of the fifth annual Freedom Festival in Provo at the Brigham Young University Marriott Center.Karie Warner, winner of the speech contest for the Freedom Festival, also spoke at Sunday's fireside, and music was provided by the Mormon Youth Symphony and Choir.

"As I review history, I am always amazed at the power of leadership and

the sacrifice required to be a good leader," Elder Perry said.

"Even the best of plans would be for naught if it weren't for the required people to implement them. Some of the greatest and most noble spirits in heaven, men like Columbus, Governor Bradford, Samuel Adams, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln, were men driven with a keen sense of their unique mission from on high," Elder Perry said.

Because of nobleness and an ability to lead that were acquired at a young age, George Washington can be considered a testament of the hand of providence in the founding of the United States, Elder Perry said.

"By the age of 16, Washington had already developed traits and talents that would prove helpful to him throughout his life," Elder Perry said.

At 13, Washington had copied the" 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior," that included "Speake not evil of the absent, for it is unjust," "Let your recreations be manful, not sinful," and "Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience."

"Wouldn't you like to have some of these in your children's readers?" Elder Perry said.

But Elder Perry warned that there is still a need for men like Washington today.

"I cannot remember a time when the impact of righteous leadership is more desired by so many of the world' nations as it is today. They now know the power of our armed forces. Is this not a time to use this window of opportunity presently available to us, to let them know the power of our system of leadership and freedom? Is this not a time to let them see the power of our example, of faith, hope, integrity, morality, and industry to be a beacon to all the world?" he said.

"Of course, we continue to need the dramatic leadership of the likes of Washington. . . . But in addition, we need to show that it really works all the way down to the grass-roots level, in our homes, neighborhoods, our schools, communities and our state," he said.

The Freedom Festival continues this week and a patriotic assembly will be held in the Marriott Center at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.