Monday, July 24, 2006
CREDIT: "Re-enactment of Mormon pioneers arriving in Salt Lake Valley, Pioneer Day 1997." Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, courtesy of the Deseret News, for "Utah Pioneers," a Utah Local Legacies project
Happy Pioneer Day!
For those of you who don't know, Utah's one state holiday is Pioneer Day, the day [in 1847] Brigham Young and several wagons full of LDS religious devotees first glimpsed the Salt Lake Valley via Emigration Canyon, where the Donner Party had decades before lost critical time on their ill-fated way to California. Brigham, who was sick at the time (folks feared he might die soon, but that was far from the case), declared from his stretcher, "This is the Place."
Ever since then, our ancestors have celebrated the day as the day of effectively the state's founding (even though it did not become a state until 1896). I saw "our ancestors" becuase my fore bearers were in the second set of wagons that came after Brigham's set of elites.
Utahns celebrate this day as if it was the other July holiday-- July 4th. At every LDS Meeting House (or "Ward"), U.S. flag line the walkways. Utahns can buy fireworks for the whole month of July basically for either Independence Day or Pioneer Day.
I wish Brigham had planned it out better. The 24th of July is a terrible time to have a holiday. It is far to hot (today it is 97, about average) and dry (with a chance of thundershowers, which is rare, it is up to 25% hummidity) for sitting outside, wearing pioneer costumes, watching parade, and dangerous to allow fireworks in such a tinderbox environment.
Oh well, at least we Utahns get a day off for our troubles. Too bad my wife works for a national company that doesn't respect this holiday. Maybe they don't like the whole Church-State melding, or maybe they just want to make more money.
So far I did some yardwork before the sun crested over our hedges, and have been cleaning up the house for the Mrs. Our kitchen remodeling is finally done and I still think it was worth the pain, cost, and time.
Anyway, raise your non-alcoholic glass to the Pioneers, whose brave trek from Missouri to Utah created this fine state.