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The men of the Mormon Battalion were no ordinary men . . . they were men of faith, duty, courage, loyalty and sacrifice," said President Thomas S. Monson in a message he recorded to be played at a commemorative program in San Diego's Old Town Jan. 18.

President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, was to have been the featured speaker on the program marking the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Mormon Battalion in San Diego. However, just a few days before the event, President Monson had to cancel his trip to California because of a fracture in the arch of his left foot.Determined to not miss the event entirely, President Monson recorded his message, which was played to an attentive audience assembled on the public square of Old Town. After he explained why he could not attend the commemorative event, President Monson said, "As I looked down at the cast on my left foot, my thoughts turned to the men of the Mormon Battalion and the tremendous contribution they made and the perseverance and dedication they reflected in their historic march. I suppose at that time some of them could have had tiny fractures in their feet, but they marched on regardless."

President Monson said: "Of this event, Elder Wilford Woodruff wrote: 'This was an interesting day in the Camp of Israel. Four companies of the volunteers were brought together in a hollow square by their captains, and interestingly addressed by several of the Quorum of the Twelve. At the close of the meeting they marched in double file from Redemption Hill across the Missouri River bottom to the ferry, seven miles.

" 'The battalion have thus stepped forth promptly and responded to the call of the government, notwithstanding the persecutions endured in the United States, and that too in the midst of a long journey, leaving families, teams and wagons standing by the wayside, not expecting to meet or see them again for one or two years.'

"The rest is history," President Monson added.

"The men who comprised the Mormon Battalion were no ordinary men. They possessed those sterling virtues which laced the annals of history." President Monson listed five of the virtues:

- They were men of faith. "Divine Providence marked their call and their mission. They had total trust in the Father of us all. As the Psalm records, `It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.' (Ps. 118:8-9.) They did not question; they served."

- They were men of duty. "This was not a time - nor is it now - for the summer soldier or sunshine patriot. Duty is not merely to do the thing we ought to do, but to do it when we should, whether we feel like it or not."

- They were men of courage. "Where they were to go they did not know, nor did they know what foe they would face. Would they themselves perish? They took strength from each other. Like the words of the well-remembered verse by Sigmund Romberg: `Give me ten men who are stout-hearted men, who will fight for the right they adore; give me ten men who are stout-hearted men, and I'll soon give you ten thousand more!' "

- They were men of loyalty. "They were loyal to their country. They did not flee from the flag which they followed. There are several loyalties beckoning to every person: loyalty to his group, his family, his church, his country."

- They were men of sacrifice. "They left their families, where they were sorely needed and where they, themselves, would prefer to be. They were looking forward to entering the valley of the mountains and building new lives. Laying aside personal preferences, they made the sacrifice which they were called to make.

"These virtues - faith, duty, courage, loyalty, sacrifice - are really part of the heritage left for our benefit and guidance by the Mormon Battalion," President Monson said.

"In our personal trek through mortality, with many forks and turnings in the road, we can well afford to follow the example of the Mormon Battalion."