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Elder Scott hails Founding Fathers

Rejoice in their successes, he says at service

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PROVO — In a display of patriotic fervor, tens of thousands of Utah County residents and others cheered, screamed and sang Sunday at the BYU Marriott Center at the annual Patriotic Service of America's Freedom Festival at Provo.

The keynote speaker, Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, cautioned against fault-finding of the Founding Fathers. He told listeners to stay away from books and authors that centered their words on finding and highlighting the imperfections of the early leaders of the nation.

"We all have imperfections," he said. "Let us rejoice in their accomplishments."

Elder Scott said America is a sacred land and will only remain free as long as its people remain righteous.

To the applause of the crowd, Elder Scott decried corruption in public office and self-serving politicians. He said if this land is to remain great, it needs more politicians who are willing to serve it and not their own needs.

"Few elected officials are willing to make the personal sacrifice," he said.

Elder Scott grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, served on the staff of Adm. Hyman Rickover and developed nuclear fuel for naval power systems.

Elder Scott spoke of traveling abroad as a young missionary and now as a general authority and how it has helped him gain a great love for his country.

"My heart fills with gratitude each time I return to this land from foreign travel," he said.

Elder Scott said this country has had divine guidance since its inception and even before. He said God intervened in the writing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

He said God laid the bedrock of the nation and that America's freedom was based on freedom of religion.

"We must teach our children to reverence our great nation," he said.

Members of the Freedom Festival board of trustees awarded their Freedom Award to four people at the Patriotic Service.

The first award went to Miracidia Baric-Adam, an Olympian from Sarajevo, Bosnia. Despite conditions of her war-torn country, Baric-Adam trained and competed in the 1992 Summer Olympics.

Provo resident Bill Taylor received an award for his work in placing flags around Provo at his own expense. Taylor, a civilian contractor on Wake Island during World War II, was taken prisoner by the Japanese and later escaped, traveling across China to eventually join American troops.

Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady received a Freedom Award for his service in Vietnam. Considered the best helicopter pilot in the war, Brady saved the lives of countless soldiers under impossible conditions, many times to his own endangerment.

The last award went to Sam Billison, a retired Marine and president of the Navajo Codetalkers Association. Billison was a Navajo codetalker who served on Iwo Jima during World War II and helped in the capture of the island.

E-MAIL: rrogers@desnews.com