Lacey Smith

Honoring pioneers

In Uncategorized on July 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Today is the observance of Pioneer Day here in Utah (yesterday was the “actual” holiday). It’s a state holiday observed less formally by people in Idaho and some other western states, especially in places founded by  or with a large population of members of the LDS church.

It’s a day to honor not only pioneer ancestors but also patriots. In some ways, Pioneer Day celebrations, known as the Days of ’47 (which have lasted all month), are an extension of Independence Day. I am absolutely in favor of that. Any opportunity to celebrate America is one I’ll take advantage of.

This holiday gives us an opportunity to contemplate the sacrifice and blessings of our predecessors.

This is my first Pioneer Day holiday in Utah (we were out of town last year) and while I grew up celebrating it in Idaho, it’s a much bigger thing here.

It’s given me a chance to really think about all the things I’ve been given, living in modern America.

First, and most importantly, I am free. I have the ability to pursue the American Dream (which is not owning a house with a white picket fence, being extremely wealthy or many of the other materially-driven ideas our society has recently suggested it is).

If I work harder, out-think others and take risks, I may end up very wealthy. In the mean time, I have the ability to work hard and prosper, raise my kids how I see fit, own a gun, have 30 pairs of shoes in my closet (which makes me incredibly rich by the standard of the whole world), move across the country, choose my own career and dozens if not hundreds of other things that I could not do if I lived in most other countries.

This is a gift given to me by ancestors of my bloodline and faithful fathers who are parents of this great nation.

Second, I have a deep love for this country and an understanding of civic duty. This was passed on to me by wise parents who also love and honor their country.

Our sense of duty did not start with my parents, though. I found this story while I was searching for information about my mom’s grandparents; even at 95, my great-grandparents made voting a high priority. I also recently found a pension record from a grandfather on my dad’s side for service in the Civil War.

Third, I have stories of courage and strength. My pioneer ancestors include handcart pioneers. I few years ago I went with a church trek in southern Idaho. We pulled handcarts through the mud, up hills and, at the end, barefoot. I didn’t pull a handcart through the snow or up a mountain, thank goodness, but some of my ancestors did.

Whenever I think about that experience, I appreciate my shoes a lot more, but I also honor and appreciate my grandparents so much more. This is just one of many examples of courage and strength left behind for me. I rely on these stories; knowing what they conquered helps me face my struggles and pushes me to be more than I am.

Finally, I hold a deep and abiding faith passed on to me from pioneers and patriots. It is a belief that God  has a plan for me, knows me better than anyone else does or ever could and guides my life. He also watches over this nation and govern in the affairs of men. He is heavily involved in this country and in the cause of freedom.

We are recipients of what we were given by those who came before us. Today I honor the pioneers who gave me freedom and left me with a rich heritage. I stand on their shoulders and could only be what I am because of who they are. I will forever be grateful to them: Blessed, honored pioneers.

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