In the state of Utah, 24 July is a special day of celebration known as Pioneer Day. It commemorates the arrival of, then President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young, and the first group of Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley on 24 July 1847 after being forced out of Nauvoo, Illinois, and other areas in the eastern United States. Regions of surrounding states originally settled by Mormon Pioneers also join in the celebration of the official state holiday with parades, fireworks, rodeos, and other festivities.
Preceding the main festivities held on 24 July, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square presented their annual Pioneer Day concerts. This year’s concerts called “Music for a Summer Evening” were performed on Friday and Saturday evening, 14 and 15 July.
At the Saturday evening performance, the Choir and Orchestra were honored to have a special guest conductor. Utah Governor Gary Herbert was handed the baton and he conducted the Choir and Orchestra in the final piece of the evening, “This Land is Your Land.” By so doing, Governor Herbert made history by becoming the first Utah governor to conduct the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
According to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s official website, near the end of the concert, Lloyd Newell, the announcer at the event, came to the stage and made the following announcement:
Most everyone here knows that the great State of Utah is celebrating the arrival of a small group of pioneers who arrived in this valley 170 years ago this coming Monday. And I’m sure you also know that the man who led them—and the thousands who followed—was soon appointed the governor of the Territory of Utah.
Now, for all of Brigham Young’s accomplishments and accolades, he was never invited to conduct the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which is a long-standing tradition the Choir has as it tours around the world … inviting renowned leaders to join us on stage as guest conductors.
And, for that matter, no governor of Utah since Brother Brigham has ever been accorded that honor.
But, tonight, we’re changing that, as we’ve invited the governor of our great state, Gary Herbert, to take over at the podium and conduct the Choir and Orchestra in one last number … for each of you.
In a Facebook post, Governor Herbert referred to the honor as “one of the great thrills of my life.” He continued in part, saying, “I believe that the extraordinary beauty of America’s landscapes was “made for you and me.” And although I might be just a little bit biased, I also believe that America’s most exceptional landscapes are found right here in Utah — from our verdant mountain land forests to our stunning red rock deserts, no other state has as much iconic and varied natural beauty. As the governor of this great state, I am proud to be able to say unequivocally that ‘this land is your land.’”
On Saturday evening I had one of the great thrills of my life — conducting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square in a rendition of “This Land is Your Land.” I believe that the extraordinary beauty of America’s landscapes were “made for you and me.”And although I might be just a little bit biased, I also believe that America’s most exceptional landscapes are found right here in Utah — from our verdant mountainland forests to our stunning red rock deserts, no other state has as much iconic and varied natural beauty.As the governor of this great state, I am proud to be able to say unequivocally that “this land is your land.” Utah has always been and will always be a “public lands state,” namely, one of those states where the majority of the land is owned and managed by the federal or state government for the benefit of all.Nearly two-thirds of our state — more than 35 million acres — is federal or state owned land that is open to the public.In recent years, too much of the discussion about good stewardship of our public lands has been polarized, leading to distorted characterizations of various policy positions. For example, some groups have insinuated that the only choice for Utah’s vast public lands is between maximal conservation or rapacious economic development. That is a false narrative and a false choice. I believe that through careful deliberation, we can identify the most responsible stewardship for our varied lands. For some areas that will mean the highest level of environmental protection. For other areas that might mean allowing access for responsible outdoor recreation. And in other areas of our vast public lands, the stewardship that will provide their greatest public benefit might be sustainable natural resource development.The either/or choice also misses a fundamental truth that I have come to realize as governor: Utahns are united in their bone-deep appreciation for our public lands. Utah is beautiful. With great blessing comes great responsibility — and as we have the enormous privilege of having these magnificent lands in our state, it is our duty to protect them and to use them wisely, preserving this glorious heritage for future generations. What do you want the future of Utah’s public lands to look like? Leave a comment below, or share to get input from your friends. If you don’t want to comment publicly, you can always send a direct message.
Posted by Governor Gary Herbert on Monday, July 17, 2017