by Marsha Ward
Throughout Utah, and in many communities in the Intermountain West of the United States, this weekend will bring parades, fireworks, concerts, and other celebrations in honor of the Mormon Pioneers, whose first wagon party arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on this day in 1847. They were followed by thousands of pioneers who came west in the next decades.
July 24th is special to those LDS members whose ancestors trod those many miles across America, looking for a place to worship as they wished. But the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--the Mormons--is no longer simply an American religion. A few years ago, a milestone was reached where there are now more LDS members outside the United States than inside of it. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a world-wide church.
What about all those millions of LDS members who did not have pioneer ancestors? Do they celebrate Pioneer Day?
Certainly. Many of them are pioneers in their own right: they might be the initial members of the LDS Church in their families. Perhaps they were the first member of their family to serve a mission for the Church. Maybe they are the first to finish high school, or go to college.
We all have ways in which we are pioneers. Although I do have Mormon Pioneer ancestors, I was the first young woman from my ward to go on a mission.
How are you a pioneer?