Jeanette Blain | News Editor | [email protected]
Photo credit: Collin Cooper | Senior Staff Photographer | @coop.97
The 2015 Patriotic Service, which is part of the Provo Freedom Festival, was held at UCCU center June 28.
The service included musical numbers by classic pop trio GENTRI and the Utah National Guard 23rd Army Band, as well as a keynote speech on freedom from Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.
Hatch, who has held office since 1977, is currently the President pro tempore of the United States Senate.
He began his speech by expressing gratitude to all those in military service.
“You represent the very best this community has to offer. Your devotion to honor, selflessness, integrity and courage embodies the very principles of American virtue,” Hatch said.
He said the founders of America held religious freedom as the preeminent freedom because to violate a man’s right to worship was to violate his conscience.
“Just as our founding fathers were vigilant in protecting religious freedom, we should be equally vigilant today,” Hatch said.
He told the audience he was deeply troubled by recent attacks on religious freedom and that some would frame religious protection laws as dangerous and contemptuous.
“Religious freedom is a universal human right,” he said, “We cannot afford to be passive observers to these attacks.”
He said many people are concerned about “Last week’s Supreme Court decision to redefine the fundamental nature of marriage,” and the lasting effects it might have on religious freedom.
Last week, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision which ruled that it is unconstitutional for a state to ban same-sex marriages or refuse to acknowledge same-sex marriages performed in other states.
“Even though the Supreme Court has spoken, know that I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that this decision does not infringe on our free exercise of religion,” Hatch said.
“I believe that religious liberty is in the best interest of all Americans. It is one of the many freedoms that distinguish us as a nation.”
He then turned the topic over to the 4th of July and what makes the celebration so unique. He said the founding fathers built a foundation of government that proved to the world that freedom is possible.
“Our Independence Day marks not only the founding of a nation, it signals the freedom for all mankind,” Hatch said.
He told a story about a Somali man who escaped civil war with only the clothes on his back. He risked everything so his family could have a chance at living in peace and freedom in the United States.
“Peace is foremost among the fruits of freedom. Without freedom, peace cannot exist,” Hatch said.
In addition to the keynote, a speech was given Aerin Burns, who was the winner of the youth speech writing contest. Burns spoke about the price of freedom. She said it is important to care, to vote and to stay informed in order protect freedom.