LDS President Hinckley worked to remind and reconcile Mormons with their past





History was one of Gordon B. Hinckley's passion. He lived it. He read it. He engaged it.

No other LDS president so balanced his attachment to the past with his devotion to the future.

During his nearly 13-year tenure at the top of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Hinckley oversaw the building of temples in Palmyra, N.Y., where the church was founded in 1830 and in Winter Quarters, Ill., where the Mormons rested for a season before beginning their long trek across the country. He took personal pride in the church's reconstructed temple in Nauvoo, Ill., on the same site and with the exact dimensions and outside architectural detail as the one that was destroyed by fire and weather in the 19th century.

He spruced up the church's historic sites in Kirtland, Ohio, and Cove Fort, Utah, among others.

In the summer of 1997, Hinckley watched approvingly as hundreds of modern pilgrims dressed like their forbearers to climb aboard horse-drawn covered wagons or pull handcarts in a massive re-enactment of the 1847 trek from Illinois to Utah. Four years later, another group re-enacted their ancestors' sea voyages from Europe in tall sailing ships.

"What he did was move history out of the academic arena into the public domain," said Jan Shipps, the preeminent non-LDS historian. "With the historic sites, the re-enactments and the building of the Museum of Church History and Art, he made Mormon history accessible, not only to the non-Mormons but to recent converts, too."

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