LDS Church To Stand Out During Olympics


(Costa Contra Times) On Sept. 12, Salt Lake Organizing Committee president Mitt Romney walked past the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and stared into the gaping hole where terrorists had plunged American Airlines Flight 77 a day earlier.

Romney was in the capital that day to discuss federal funding for security measures at the Winter Olympics, which begin Feb. 8 in Salt Lake City. Until he saw the smoldering debris at the Pentagon, Romney said, he didn't
comprehend the magnitude of all that the Olympics represent. Every Olympic Games has left behind a legacy -- from Los Angeles' highly successful and profitable marketing strategies in 1984 to Atlanta's overcommercialization
and transportation blunders in 1996. Salt Lake City was supposed to leave its mark by creating an international flavor through its well-traveled people, while maintaining the small city charm of a Winter Games. Instead, the city is faced with helping restore a nation in the eyes of the world by hosting a safe Olympic Games. "Fate may have fallen to this city and this state to be the place most ever spent for a Winter Games.

The LDS church, whose members comprise 69 percent of Utah's population, has played a key role in helping Salt Lake City appeal to the world at large. As part of its doctrine, members serve 18 months to two years as missionaries in countries throughout the world. According to the church, about 50,000 missionaries currently are serving in more than 150 countries. Former missionaries will work the Olympics as translators and help educate foreign visitors about American culture. Bronzed statues of men, women and children throughout the city also depict the LDS church's strong belief in family and neighborly hospitality. "We're a community of neighbors, extending across the world," said LDS Bishop H. David Burton, who's in charge of facilities management during the games. "This is our chance to basically open our hometown and welcome everyone in."