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
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."