In what ever way you choose to observe or remember the lives that were lost and the tragedy that occurred on September 11, 2001, I hope that while you are doing it you will pause to remember the other 9/11. On September 11, 1857 members of the Mormon Militia from Cedar City, Utah and the surrounding areas killed approximately 120 members of the Baker-Fancher wagon train. 17 children, under the age of eight, considered “innocent blood” under Mormon doctrine were the only ones spared.
Many books have been written trying to assign blame to either Brigham Young or the local Mormon leaders. I will not enter that debate. I will just say this. AS I remember BOTH 9/11’s I will remember that most of those who perpetrated bot acts were probably otherwise good men who loved their families and their God. They were men who most of the time were harmless and when playing with their children and caring for their loved ones could, in all likelihood be gentle, kind and loving. BUT at some point they surrendered their agency. They surrendered their ability to think. They gave so much control to their religious leaders that when someone said, “I need you to go murder a bunch of men, women, and children” these otherwise good men said “okay.” I wonder how different Mormon history would be if just a few of the men in Cedar City who were called upon to go kill the members of the Baker-Fancher wagon train had the fortitude to stand up and say, “No, killing people sounds like a really bad idea. I don’t care if you are my leader, I don’t care if you do claim to talk to God, I won’t do it”.
Maybe things would have been different if something like this had happened, maybe the questioners would have been killed too. I will not judge those young men who were only following orders that day, I was not there, I cannot say what I would have done if I feared for the safety of my family. But I have learned a lesson. It is a lesson that was repeated in Nazi Germany, on September 11, 2001, in the FLDS community, and in so many others where a strong leader was allowed to exercise too much control. If I ever surrender my agency to a leader, If I stop asking questions, If I reach a point where I am afraid to go to my leaders and ask questions and when necessary say, “I think that you are wrong,” then I am facilitating history repeating itself. I will do my part to not let that happen. I will question until the day I die.