June 29, 1997
Location: Pacific Springs, Wyoming
Summary: Sabbath at Pacific Springs
Journal entry: I woke up to the warm sun after sleeping under the stars last night. A few of us had laid last night under the handcarts and marveled at the sky. Shooting stars criss-crossed the sky all night.
We held church today outside at the edge of a hill overlooking South Pass. Each member of the presidency spoke to us, each centering their remarks on the need for unity. We do need to be unified to make it to Salt Lake. The same is true in any group effort. President Hill pointed out that as members of the church back home, we only can achieve great things if we have faith, work hard, and have unity.
All of us are tired. We have all walked, driven, ridden, and worried for almost 1,000 miles, and the distance is wearing on all of us. With only a few weeks left, you'd think that by now we would have discovered a good way to put aside our major disagreements, but aggravations have continued to build. Amy and I have talked the past few days about how we can best try to build more unity and stop contention. We decided we will try not to take sides on issues, and we won't criticize those in charge.
This afternoon, I took a nap in the Cache valley wagon driven by Farris Thurston. It was a glorious nap. Covered wagons have natural air conditioning: they are shaded from the sun, and the breeze blows in one end and out the other. I imagine that many of my ancestors did the same thing to escape the afternoon heat.
Bob Johnson, one of our full-time walkers, carries an American flag every day with him. He handed me this explanation of why he carries it:
The Mormon Trail - 1997
Sometimes I think of the Trail as a battlefield. We have battled wind, rain, cold, heat, mosquitoes, federal, state and wagon train regulations; aches, pains and blisters, mechanical, economic and physical problems, personal egos and eccentricity, and yes, we have occasionally battled each other. But, my love of country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly "to the battlefield". All the blissful moments that I have enjoyed come crowding over me and I feel most deeply grateful to God and our forefathers that I've enjoyed them for so long.
I have no misgivings about or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged. "It is a very important enterprise, a very important undertaking, where a statement is made throughout the entire world as to the Church and Kingdom (of God) here on the earth." (Elder M. Russel Ballard)
I know how great a debt we owe to those who went before, some with bloodshed and suffering, and I am perfectly willing to lay aside everything for a "moment" to help celebrate the building of the great nation, honor those valiant builders and make a payment on that debt.
I am sharing an incommunicable experience that has increased my passion for life. My heart has been touched with fire. The Mormon Trail led to freedom in 1847. Today the flag I carry still stands for that freedom. It is a symbol that we of this church and wagon train bear proudly and humbly. It says to all Americans that we are their friends, that we love liberty and this country, that we will join with them in upholding the rights of the people, the constitution and the laws of our land.
I am grateful to be living in America where God has made us free and pray that we will never forget those who lived and died to save that right. I have no doubt about my love for this choice land. God bless the U.S.A.
Robert M. Johnson
Orderville, Utah 84758
(Note: Some of the above reflect statements made by S. Ballou and O. Holmes about the Civil War)