During his leadership and the early days of the church Joseph was tarred and feathered, jailed multiple times, hunted by mobs and beaten. His family suffered right along with him. Two of his children died after a mob attack. The early Mormons as a whole, were persecuted and driven from their homes in Kirtland, Ohio and Nauvoo, Missouri eventually settling in the Salt Lake valley. But before that happened Joseph and his brother Hyrum Smith were murdered by a mob at Carthage Jail in Illinois.
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we honor and revere Joseph Smith as a leader and a prophet. His is an example of faith, strength, courage and perseverance. In the Doctrine and Covenants it states:
Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fullness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!
I want to add my testimony to that. Without my knowledge of Joseph Smith I would not be where I am today. I am eternally grateful for his sacrifice and for all that he did to restore God's church to the earth. And without my knowledge and testimony of the church I would not love and celebrate the Christmas season the way I do. It is my love and appreciation and knowledge of my Savior, Jesus Christ and His Atonement and sacrifice that give meaning to my life and hope to my days.
The hymn "Praise to the Man" has always been one of my favorites.
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior, let us remember those who sacrificed so much to bring us the truth, as well as those who continue to work and sacrifice so that all can worship freely.
Happy birthday, Brother Joseph. And Happy 10th Day of Christmas!