In the time of early America, a people known as the Lamanites were continually at war with the Nephites, disagreeing not only on matters of religion, but resenting them because they were more prosperous and well-to-do.  On one occasion, this hostility resulted in a very unusual battle, one where the Nephite armies were commanded by a young general who was only twenty-five years old.  His name was Moroni.

He was large in stature and very wise for his age, charismatic and able to inspire those who serve under him.  He also had a talent for developing military strategies.  During an initial skirmish with the attacking Lamanites, and although greatly outnumbered, he and one of his captains named Lehi inspired their men to prevail over the would-be conquerors.  Through cunning and strategic maneuvers, they surrounded the enemy and gave them a chance to surrender. 

The Lamanites at the time were commanded by a man named Zerehemnah, who refused their offer and became so angry that he attempted to kill Moroni during a cease-fire attempt to negotiate a truce.  It was a dramatic moment witnessed by two waiting armies.  But as Zarehemnah suddenly raised his sword, one of Moroni’s men stepped in and struck the Lamanite leader, cutting off his scalp.  Then holding it high in the air on the tip of his own sword, so everyone could see, he shouted a convincing threat to the enemy!  “Even as this scalp has fallen to the earth,” he cried, “which is the scalp of your chief, so shall ye fall to the earth except ye will deliver up your weapons of war and depart with a covenant of peace.”

Many were frightened and came forward, throwing down their weapons, but Zerehemnah and the others continued to fight, suffering extreme casualties and eventually stopping and agreeing to a truce.  It was a significant victory for Moroni, yet only a temporary one, since it turned out to be the beginning of a much longer war lasting for many years.  During this time Moroni tore his coat and from it made a flag on which he wrote the words, “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, and wives, and our children.” He fastened the flag to a pole, calling it the title of liberty, and went among the Nephites waving it like a banner high in the air.  It became a part of his future legacy, signifying boldness and courage to fight for what is right.

In the years to come, Moroni had many opportunities to lead his people in battle against the Lamanites and achieve many amazing victories, despite being vastly outnumbered.  Again he was a military genius and an inspiration to his men.  Yet he always retained a secret weapon at his side, unknown to the vengeful Lamanites.  The Lord had promised success to the Nephites for their righteousness, resulting in victory and a time of peace and prosperity.  As a consequence, Moroni was a great leader who loved liberty, not just for himself but for an entire nation, “a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.” (Alma 48:12) He understood their precarious situation during a war and labored diligently, realizing there was much to do in very little time.

He was truly a hero among heroes, one who served well and gave much for his country.  Still relatively young, he retired from the military when he was thirty-nine years old and died four years later.  Several centuries in the future, an ancient historian named Mormon would pay tribute to him and write an impressive epitaph.

“Moroni was a strong and a mighty man,” he said, “he was a man of a perfect understanding, yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery, yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.” “Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all man had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.” (Alma 48: 11-12, 17) Written by Burke McConkie.

Click here "Alma 43:16-54; 44, 46, 48-62" to read the actual account of this story from the Book of Mormon.

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