Music and the Spoken Word

Milestones on the Road of Life - Sunday, February 22, 2015

In 1753 the British government, with its heavy hand on the American colonies, put Benjamin Franklin in charge of the colonial postal system north of Maryland. Postage prices were assessed by the mile in those days, and Franklin’s fellow colonists were suspicious that the British were overcharging.

Franklin determined to find out. He set out on the Boston Post Road, then known as the King’s Highway. Attached to his carriage was a homemade odometer that counted the rotations of the wheels. Every mile, a stake was driven into the ground and a crew followed behind placing stone markers at each stake. These literal milestones were among the first in the United States.

Today, milestones measure more than distance; they have become a cultural symbol of the passage of life. They mark significant moments, experiences, transitions, and changes. These milestones may not be as tangible as stone markers by the side of the road, but they are indeed a measure of our journey.

What are the milestones in your life? For some it may be college graduation and the start of a career. For others, milestones include the birth of a grandchild, the death of a loved one, a health challenge, a new neighborhood, a disappointment in love or family, a conversation that gives vision and purpose, or simply planting a beautiful garden.

Milestones help us look back and see our progress; they help us look forward with faith and determination. They give us something to strive for and remind us that we aren’t done yet. Sometimes we don’t recognize a milestone until long after we’ve passed it. And many of our milestones are yet to be set along our life’s path.

Benjamin Franklin’s life was full of milestones, and many of them became his country’s milestones. So he spoke from personal experience when he said, “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” May our personal milestones give meaning and perspective not only to our successes but also to the occasional bumps and detours—to every mile of the journey of life.

- Heidi S. Swinton

See Trudy Tynan, “Milestones of History,” Toledo Blade, Sept. 19, 2004, F12.
In Ann Kannings, comp., Benjamin Franklin: Life and Words (ebook, 2014).

Feb. 22, 2015, Broadcast Number 4,458

Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square

Mack Wilberg

Clay Christiansen

Lloyd Newell

Call of the Champions
John Williams

There Is Sunshine In My Soul Today
John R Sweney; arr. Mack Wilberg

Prelude on "All Things Bright and Beautiful"
Neil Harmon

Crucifixus, from Mass in F Major "di Chimay"
Luigi Cherubini

Unfold, Ye Portals, from The Redemption
Charles Gounod

Zion's Walls, from Old American Songs
Revivalist song; adapted by Aaron Copland; arr. Glenn Koponen

Alleluia, from Psalm 150
Alberto Ginastera