Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A personal connection to the Mormon Battalion

Editor's Note: The weekend before Brittany wrote this letter, her dad (Curtis) and mom (Teresa) were visiting family in Pocatello, Idaho. While there at church, they ran into a cousin of Curtis', who told them after learning about Brittany's assignment as a missionary in San Diego, that the Newman line had an ancestor in the Mormon Battalion, and how great it was that Brittany was serving there.

It just so happened that this person had been waiting to be found. Curtis had had a prompting for months to open a family history of his great grandmother. It was sitting on a shelf in the basement, but was never touched — until Curtis found out about this family member. We found out he joined the Mormon Battalion at 19, and in 1857, was part of the group of men who held of Johnson's Army at the head of Echo Canyon until Brigham Young was ready to let them enter. He also served a mission in Oregon.

Brittany found out the very next day. Here's her letter:


SAN DIEGO — I started crying as I looked at Oliver Norton on the computer screen. Just yesterday, I was showing a family how to use the roster kiosks and I pulled up Oliver Norton's name. I had the feeling to read his information, but my tour was too big and I got pulled away to take pictures of my group. And now I am sitting here looking at his face. I get to tell the world his story! Thank you so much for telling me that:) It was just what I needed today.

Oliver Norton Harmon, Jr.
Born: Oct. 18, 1826, Erie County, Pennsylvania
Died: Jul. 12, 1901, Milo, Idaho
I wanted to share with you two experiences from sacrament meeting and a devotional we went to this week. 

The first one was the devotional: The BYU basketball team was in San Diego and they always do a devotional before they play in the area they are in. Noah Hartsock and Brock Zylstra talked first (I know I messed up the spelling) and then Coach Rose got up and shared an experience he had. He was in the hospital two years ago after finding out that he had pancreatic cancer. He was pretty drugged, but he still could notice all the goings on around him. He heard people yelling, screaming, crying, and he could hear the nurses comforting and helping these people.

Then his nurse came in and was doing vitals and everything and asked him what she could do for him. He told her he was in much better shape than everyone else and that she should go help them. She replied that he was just as important and that she was there to help him. He described the overwhelming Spirit that came over him that day. He felt Heavenly Father tell him that he needed to be more kind, just as the nurse had been.

I have been pondering on that a lot. What everlasting influence does kindness have on the world? This morning in personal study, I read from the Ensign the talk called HE LIVED AS HE TAUGHT about George Albert Smith. There are a few sentences that illuminated from the page:

"If we truly have a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it will manifest itself in our lives — particularly in the way we treat one another....Kindness is the power that God has given us to unlock hard hearts and subdue stubborn souls.... Sharing the Gospel is the Ultimate Kindness.... Love has the power to inspire our children to live righteously..."

I need to be more kind. I know Heavenly Father reminded me of that these past few days.

The other thing I learned this week from sacrament meeting is the power of change. Our high councilman gave a talk about integrity. He loves Chicago history, and he told us about Al Capone. A member of his gang, Easy Eddie, did horrible things for Al Capone, but he had a son, and he wanted his son to remember him with some integrity, so he acted as a witness against Al Capone in court.

Barely a year later, Easy Eddie was killed by the gang. Before I finish that story, I want to tell you about another man he told us about: Butch O'Hare. (Who the O'Hare airport is named after) Butch was a fighter pilot during WWII ( I think). He and his fleet were ordered to fly to their next target. As Butch was flying, he noticed that his plane had not been topped off and he would not have enough gas to reach his destination. He was ordered to return back to the ship. As he did, he was able to see Japanese fighter planes heading to the aircraft carrier. He warned the aircraft, but all the planes were heading to their target. So Butch flew straight at the Japanese planes and after using all the ammunition he had, started diving at the planes causing them to turn away from the aircraft carrier. Miraculously,  Butch made it to the aircraft safely.

Butch O'Hare was Easy Eddie's son.

That story made me realize how many people have influenced my life by showing their integrity by example. Sometimes I think we think that our everyday actions don't mean that much, but little do we realize that they mean the world. Seriously, I have come to realize that what I do every day effects eternity.

I am so excited for this week. Todd is getting baptized on Sunday! He is the second Marine I have been able to teach that is getting baptized. That alone is a sweet experience. So often the Marines feel like they can never be forgiven for the things they have done, but when they learn about the personal relationship they have with the Savior and that they can be forgiven, their whole countenance changes. I can't imagine how hard it is to be a representative of Jesus Christ in the Marine corps. They get made fun of so bad, yet they stand their ground. I am so grateful Heavenly Father has let me teach both HR and Todd. They truly are already great leaders in the kingdom of God.

1 comment:

  1. Oliver Norton Harmon, Jr. is my Great Great Grandfather! I was looking up information about him when I came upon your blog and thought that I would leave a little comment. My Grandfather is Elton Lorenzo Harmon, whose father is Lorenzo Barnes Harmon, whose father is Oliver Norton Harmon Jr.