President Ballard, Days of ’47 Grand Marshal, Reminisces About Pioneer Ancestor

Jul 22, 2018, 9:51 PM | Updated: 10:50 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – During the Days of ’47 parade on Tuesday, President M. Russell Ballard will ride in a car near the front, as grand marshal.

It is not the first time the Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has enjoyed the role, but it’s one he relishes.

“The thing you feel when you’re sitting in a car representing the church, which I’ve done several times, and you see all these families on these roads, waving and cheering for those who are participating, you know, this is a great state!” said President Ballard. “This is a great city. This is a great place to live.”

The theme for this year’s parade is “Pioneer Stories, Foundation for the Future.” President Ballard sat down one-on-one with KSL’s Dave McCann in advance of the parade to share his thoughts about the theme, and his pioneer ancestry.

McCann: It’s almost like you wrote the theme because this means so much to you.

Pres. Ballard: I believe deeply that if we ever lose sight of our forefathers… we will have lost something very, very precious.

Photo Courtesy the LDS Church

They met for the interview at the home that once belonged to President Ballard’s great grandmother, Mary Fielding Smith. The home, which was originally built in Murray, was moved brick by brick to This is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City.

Smith crossed the planes in 1848. The widow of Hyrum Smith, she had several young children to care for during the trip.

Pres. Ballard: I mean she took that family and put them in a wagon and Joseph F. was not yet 10 years old and he’s leading one of the oxen teams.

McCann: Do you look at the outside of this house and think about your heritage?

Pres. Ballard: What comes to mind is that they had to do with what they had… This is the original house that used to be out on a little piece of farm. Her family, the Fieldings, were farmers and that’s why she didn’t want to be in the city… When I think of Mary Fielding Smith, I just pause in wonderment in how she ever did what she did.

McCann: When we think of these pioneer stories, we often think of these big tough men. There were some awfully tough women that helped make it happen.

Pres. Ballard: Pioneer women, they did things that were unbelievable. They pulled handcarts; they even pulled handcarts with their husbands in them who had collapsed. They forged the streams. They fought the weather, they huddled their children around bonfires. I don’t know how they did it, but we have to pause in Pioneer Days and the Days of ’47 and we have to salute the pioneer women who made it possible for us to have what we have in this valley.

McCann: You’ve said many times that it is that heritage that is everything.

Pres. Ballard: I think every religion and every culture, particularly in the state of Utah, appreciate their pioneer forefathers that came here. Some came here and knew how to mine. Some who came were machinists. They came here and they made this valley blossom as a rose. That’s why we honor all the cultures. We honor all the religions. And we say we want to work together.

McCann: The one thing you would like every Utahn to do this Pioneer Day?

Pres. Ballard: I would like every Utahn to put your arm around someone that just needs to know that you love them and you care about them. Just one… if everybody can do that, it may be within your own family. It may be within your ward. It may be within your community, but all of us can touch one… Just think how many people would be happier than they are today.

KSL will broadcast the 171st annual Days of ’47 Parade Tuesday morning at 9:00 a.m. It will also stream live on the KSL TV app.

KSL 5 TV Live

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President Ballard, Days of ’47 Grand Marshal, Reminisces About Pioneer Ancestor