Seven heroes, including six Church members, were honored Feb. 22 by the Utah Chapter of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge in a ceremony in which President Thomas S. Monson participated.

The organization, which emphasizes citizen awareness of and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution, gave the awards at its annual George Washington's Birthday Luncheon in Salt Lake City. President Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, gave the invocation and, along with Utah Lt. Gov. Olene Walker, presented the awards.Margaret Nadauld, chapter president and the wife of Elder Stephen D. Nadauld of the Seventy, conducted the program.

"Those who founded these United States were dedicated to a very noble cause," said an announcer on an introductory audio recording. "They were national heroes, honest and courageous men and women without price. One such hero was George Washington, Father of our Country, whose 263rd birthday we commemorate today. Washington and our other founders had a vision and a mission to which they placed their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. In fulfilling that mission they performed heroic acts and rendered arduous service to improve and to spare the lives of others. In this same tradition there are many other outstanding Americans who place service above self.

"Each year in February the Utah Chapter of Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge honors a few of the heroes who live in our midst. Some whom we honor are heroes who have acted spontaneously with bravery and courage in an emergency situation. Some are heroes because they have lived their lives by daily serving others with strength of character and a determination to better the lives of their fellow men and women."

Each honoree was announced in turn and escorted to the awards table by two men dressed in the garb of Revolutionary War soldiers. Chapter board member Don Gale narrated the awards. Here is a list of honorees:

- Wendy Bennion of the Union 21st Ward, Sandy Utah Cottonwood Creek Stake. In 1990, at age 14, she was diagnosed with a form of bone cancer. She had an operation to remove part of her foot and underwent chemotherapy that left her bald and very ill. She found ways to use her experience to help others.

Instead of trying to hide her baldness, she spoke about it openly at school groups, youth groups and Church gatherings. She told her peers that while she may look different on the outside, she was still the same person on the inside and that people must learn to look beyond surface differences to see the real person inside.

Before her illness she had been a volunteer at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City. Subsequently, she intensified that activity, presenting herself as a role model for youngsters struggling with the same physical and emotional challenges she had overcome. She also became a spokeswoman for the medical center.

A year later the cancer returned, this time in her lungs. More surgery and chemotherapy followed, but she continued her volunteer work and public speaking.

She graduated from high school with honors and earned a scholarship to Ricks College, but the cancer returned again to her lungs. This time it was inoperable, but she received more chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation therapy. She transferred to Salt Lake Community College to continue her education, public speaking and volunteer work.

She was recognized for "turning a serious challenge into a profound opportunity."

- George Griner, a cameraman with KSL-TV in Salt Lake City, formerly Scoutmaster and now Explorer adviser in the Aspen Hills Ward, Sandy Utah Granite South Stake. In May 1993, when he spotted smoke billowing from a house, he stopped to catch the fire on videotape. When he got out of his car, neighbors yelled that someone was still inside the burning house. He broke a bedroom window seven feet above the ground and tried to pull himself through to where the victim would likely be, cutting himself on the jagged glass.

When he could not get through, he ran to the front door and began crawling across the floor to where he thought the bedroom was located. The smoke and the heat were intense and forced him back before he could reach the bedroom. Outside, he instructed neighbors to soak him with garden hoses, and he entered the house once more. Again, dense smoke and flames prevented him from reaching the room. Brother Griner returned to the broken window, wriggled through it and pulled the bed containing the victim to the window. He raised the unconscious man to the opening, hoping to give him a breath of fresh air. By then emergency personnel arrived and removed the victim, taking him to the hospital, where he recovered.

He was recognized for his instinctive and courageous response to the situation,

- Mark Hardman of the Valley View Ward, Kearns Utah West Stake. On March 23, 1994, he happened upon a head-on collision between a motor home and a four-wheel drive vehicle below Soldier Summit in Utah's Spanish Fork Canyon. He stopped to help.

When he approached, he heard gas hissing from the motor home propane tank and the voice of a young boy calling for help. He tore open the rear door of the motor home and removed the 7-year-old, carrying him back to his car.

He returned to the motor home. A woman in the front seat was already dead and another was struggling to get out. He put his hand on her forehead and told her not to move and that help was on the way. His calm voice helped her relax.

Another passerby stopped and turned off the leaking gas. Brother Hardman went to the other vehicle where he found another fatally injured person and a passenger struggling to get out. Again, he calmed her and did what he could to stop her bleeding. Four other victims were in the vehicle and scattered on the ground. Brother Hardman covered them with sleeping bags and whatever else he could find.

He remained on the scene to comfort the victims until emergency vehicles arrived.

He was recognized for rendering emergency treatment and calming those who badly needed it.

- Sidney M. Horman of the Crescent 18th Ward, Sandy Utah Crescent Stake. A general contractor, now 90 years old, he built the first covered shopping mall in the United States, 25 shopping centers, 105 government buildings, 300 oil company structures and countless churches, banks, office buildings, reservoirs, power plants, bowling lanes, roads, markets, pipelines, truck depots, hotels, houses and apartment buildings.

But he was quoted as saying he worked hard so he would have the means to help others. "He has touched literally thousands of lives in a thousand different ways," the narrator said. "The stories of his generosity are legion. When individuals or families needed help he gave them money or forgave their debts, or provided free rent, or co-signed loans, whatever he felt would help most. If his generosity did not produce the desired outcome in the first instance, he often gave people second and third chances to succeed. In one case an elderly friend asked for money. Horman told his accountant to draw a check. The accountant said, `We can't afford it.' Sid said, `You worry too much. I've been without before and I can always start again. You have to give in order to receive.' "

He was recognized for his support of the arts, education, community service groups and the Church.

- Lt. Lloyd Prescott, Salt Lake County Sheriff's Department and a member of the Granger 23rd Ward, Salt Lake Granger Stake. On March 5, 1994, a Saturday morning, he was working in his office in civilian clothes. Someone yelled that a man had taken hostages in the Salt Lake City Public Library next door. He placed his service pistol in the back of his belt, concealed it with a windbreaker, and headed for the library.

He walked into the room containing the gunman and hostages as if he were one of the captives. The gunman ordered him to sit down. In the center of the table was a homemade bomb. The man had the trigger mechanism in one hand and a .45-caliber semiautomatic weapon in the other.

Over five hours the gunman grew more agitated, finally saying it was time to begin sacrificing hostages. In an instant Lt. Prescott yelled for the others to drop to the floor out of reach of exploding bomb fragments and fired four shots, disabling the gunman.

For that act and for devoting his life to public service in a danger-filled profession, he was honored by the Utah Chapter of the Freedoms Foundation.

- Gwen Page, Salt Lake City librarian and a member of the Hawthorne Ward, Salt Lake Sugar House Stake. During the above incident, as the gunman began to take hostages, she, unnoticed, motioned for others to call the police. She moved between the gunman and his hostages. For the next five hours he focused his attention on her, which removed much of the tension from the rest of the hostages. He frequently pointed the gun in her direction, threatening to shoot her, but somehow she maintained an outward calm that helped everyone else deal with the stress. Later, she said she did what she did because she felt an obligation to the library clients who had become hostages. She also said she was more concerned about the well-being of the others than about her own safety.

She was recognized for setting an example of calm self-assurance, for interpreting professional responsibility to mean a great deal more than routine daily activity, for volunteering to intercede on behalf of strangers exposed to extreme danger and for helping activate in others the strength to bring them safely through a life-threatening ordeal.

- Chris Ritzakis, owner of Nector's Restaurant in Salt Lake City and a member of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Salt Lake City.

More than 25 years ago at Thanksgiving time, he remembered the freedom he enjoyed in the United States to start and operate a small business. To show his thankfulness, he decided to open his restaurant to the needy on Thanksgiving to provide them traditional holiday meals free of charge.

In subsequent years he arranged for buses to bring those who otherwise could not come, and organized volunteers to take food to those who would not or could not come to his restaurant.

This tradition of generosity has continued for more than a quarter-century, and for it he was recognized.