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For week ended June 13, 1999 Posted 19 Jun 1999

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Massacre maybe best forgotten

Summarized by Eileen Bell

Massacre maybe best forgotten
Deseret News 13Jun99 C7
By Lee Benson: Deseret News columnist

In this column, Lee Benson offers his personal reactions to thoughts of the tragic Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857. That was when a party of immigrants heading for California were killed in southern Utah.

Benson looks at the pressures on the Latter-day Saints involved in the massacre, and examines some of the reasons they might have had. In 1950, an LDS schoolteacher named Juanita Brooks wrote about the circumstances in her book "The Mountain Meadows Massacre." She felt that Latter-day Saints should not hide from the truth of the events. "Our history is our history, and with all its dark spots, we will accept it as it is. We will let the accomplishments of the Mormon Pioneers weigh against their mistakes without apology."

She describes a people who had been persecuted, having to deal with old feelings as the party from Missouri and Arkansas crossed their land. She wrote of the massacre victims opening old wounds in the weeks before the tragedy. And the fear the Saints had of upcoming federal moves of Johnston's Army. And the effect of American Indians in the area who were tired of more whites sweeping through. She called it "Mob psychology and war hysteria."

Benson finds pain in realizing what drove good people to evil deeds. "...if it were up to me, I'd yank that monument out of there, the sooner the better. As the police might say at the site of a modern-day drive-by shooting, 'Move along, folks, nothing here to see.' Or, especially, to memorialize."

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information