This sculpture portrays Mormon at the time he first enters into the hill Shem. He
is twenty–four years old and he looks at the awesome task before him that includes
reading and abridging records created over a period of one thousand years. His faith
in the Lord will strengthen him to honorably complete this and further assignments.
The Book of Mormon records the struggles and triumphs of the ancient American, Christian
nation of the Nephites, including the supernal visit of Jesus Christ to these people,
and their subsequent golden age of peace. However, the people finally turned against
Him and His teachings. The Book of Mormon ends with the fall of this once-great
civilization. Mormon, the prophet-historian who witnessed this disaster, mourned
for his people.
O fair ones mine, ye fair ones dear, fair sons and daughters gone,
One day you’ll stand before His seat and all your follies own.
You willed destruction, vanquished peace, repented not from sin;
If God grants mercy to your souls, perchance we’ll meet again.
Mormon, the last general of the Nephite nation, looked out on the battle-field of
Cumorah, and saw the thousands of fallen bodies. His lament over the great Nephite
nation on the American continent is a warning to the current nation which occupies
the Promised Land:
“And my soul was rent with anguish, because of the slain of my people, and I cried:
“O ye fair ones! How could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair
ones! How could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive
Behold if ye had not done this, ye would not have fallen. But behold, ye are fallen,
and I mourn your loss.”
With the last picture in the series, MORMON BIDS FAREWELL TO A ONCE GREAT NATION
there was a gap in history of several hundred years since the coming of Christ. During
this time the Nephite people had fallen into wickedness so grave that the Lord decreed
that they should be destroyed. And so they were, all in one overwhelming epic battle.
It is hard to imagine the enormity of death that took place, hard to conceive an
entire nation of men, women, and children, destroyed from off the face of the earth.
The artist felt and strove to capture the epic, downright Wagnerian tragedy of the
solemn scene at the end of the last battle. Mormon has been fatally wounded in the
fight, and so they have laid him down on the hilltop, supported by his son Moroni.
As he grieves for his fallen people, he holds the plates of gold, graven with his
own hand, leaving a few plates for Moroni to add some final words. That one last
leaf on the tree carries its own symbolism, as well as the buzzards circling over
the tragic scene.
The blood -stained flag shown leaning against the tree is that venerated Title of
Liberty raised so long ago by Captain Moroni. It seems only natural that they would
have saved and nurtured that old flag. Knowing it was the end, they might well have
said one to another, “We weren’t worthy to live under that flag, but now, at least
like men, we can die under it.”
This painting could hardly have been done without suggesting the carnage and death
that took place on that terrible day. I did include a few token dead, but did it
tastefully, not a lot of blood and wounded bodies. Indeed, there is, with all its
tragedy, a feeling of peace, a silent final tranquility for those who rest now, in