by Stephanie Abney
Bet you can guess what my topic is today. Actually, there is something inherently wrong in my mind to write about anything else on Pioneer Day. I’m a life-long member of the church and come from what is fondly referred to as “pioneer stock.” All eight of my great-grandparents walked across the plains to get to the Salt Lake Valley. Most of them did so in their youth so my great-great grandparents also crossed the plains with them. Even my grandfather walked across as a child. (He was an older gentleman when he married my grandmother, both of them widowed and then they had 3 more children, including my mother, in case you were wondering how I could possibly have a grandfather that was a pioneer). In fact, I remember being told the story of when he was sick and his mother told him to get into the wagon and he refused. He said he wanted to be able to tell his children and grandchildren that he walked every step of the way. Three of my great-grandparents (and the grandfather mentioned above) were born in Europe so you can add that long sea-voyage into the mix as well. It is thrilling and amazing how the love of the gospel and a desire to conquer new territory can sustain someone through the most difficult of experiences.
I’m actually half Danish and half English. My maternal grandfather was English and my maternal grandmother was Danish, while my fraternal grandfather was Danish and my fraternal grandmother was English; making each of my parents “half and half” and when you add up all the fourths (one from each grandparent), my sister and I still come out “half and half.” Sounds kind of like cream. Well, that’s a good analogy because cream rises to the top!
The human spirit fascinates me and I marvel at what drives people to accomplish such remarkable tasks. Today marks the anniversary of the arrival of a weary group of Mormon pioneers led by Brigham Young into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. President Young told the saints that it was enough, saying, “This is the place.” For 20 more years another 70,000 Mormons traveled by wagons and handcarts to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. After the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, overland wagon travel declined and emigrants began arriving by rail. In the end, it didn’t matter how they came, only that they arrived.
Thus it is with each of us. It doesn’t matter what struggles we have to face to get where we are going; it only matters that we get there. The obstacles along the way shape us; they reveal our true character and prepare us for eternal life with our Heavenly Father and our loved ones. By its very definition every one of us is a pioneer: to be the first to prepare the way, to take part in the beginning of something, to initiate, to lead the way… so, to this I say, “Go forth and be bold!” Happy Pioneer Day, all you wonderful pioneers!!
Being the research queen that I am, I’ll leave you a couple of great links to help you celebrate:
Special treat ~ Pioneer Coloring Book: The Prayer Quilt ~ here is a pdf file of a coloring book about the pioneers that you can download and print off for any little ones in your family:
Excellent site for tracing your Mormon Pioneer ancestry from Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, and South Africa to Salt Lake City, Utah: http://www.xmission.com/~nelsonb/pioneer.htm
Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing “Come, Come Ye Saints”