So today is July 24th! For anyone living outside of Utah, it's just another Wednesday at work. But, for those of us in the Beehive state, today is Pioneer Day! It's the anniversary of when the Mormon pioneers arrived and began the settlement of our great state!
Members of the early LDS church were brutally persecuted in the Eastern United States. Eventually, they packed up everything they had into the backs of covered wagons and handcarts and headed west. Back then, very little of the land between the Mississippi River and California had been settled. Of course American Indian tribes dotted the land, but, especially in Utah which is an arid desert, even they were few and far between.
On July 24, 1847 they came into the Salt Lake Valley. Their leader, President Brigham Young, was ill--as were many of them by that time--but he got out of the covered wagon he was riding in and declared, "This is the place." There was only one tree in the entire valley, and they had relatively little time--only a few months--to set up shelter winter, and plant crops for the following season.
Today in Utah there will be parades, barbecues, fireworks, and plenty of other celebratory, family togetherness-types of activities. We celebrate their courage and endurance because it directly shaped life as we know it today.
Happy Birthday, Utah! Despite the desert conditions and, you know, perpetual road construction, I'll always love you!
I'd like to end with one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite films:
"I will call to the past, far back to the beginning of time, and beg [my ancestors] to come and help me at the judgment. I will reach back and draw them into me, and they must come, for at this moment, I am the whole reason they have existed at all." --Joseph Cinque, Amistad
Do you know the origins of your state's settlement?