Hoping for a Better Tomorrow

July 20, 2020

If you are anywhere near the state of Utah, United States, then you’ve likely heard of Pioneer Day. It’s happening this Friday, July 24.

The day is founded to celebrate the pioneers who traveled across the plains in the mid-1800s. These pioneers left to find religious freedom, create new opportunities in the west, or to explore what was considered the last of the frontier country. Unless of course, you believe Australia to be the last of the frontier country and are more or less on your way there. ;)

I don’t think that I appreciated the holiday when I was younger, even though it came with fireworks and barbecues and rodeos. I knew what it was about, who we were celebrating, but other than mild curiosity I don’t think I was particularly interested or invested in my ancestors.

But, I’m older now, and wiser (I should hope), and I see something in the holiday that I didn’t before. I see the full spectrum of the human experience. Perseverance and ingenuity. Industry and spirit. Brilliance and tenacity.

Each holiday that we humans celebrate highlights a different part of our story. Christmas, Hanukkah, and Ramadan are all religious celebrations, that highlight our search for meaning, family, and spirituality. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I celebrate Christmas, which celebrates Christ’s birth and his life. For me, this single event has brought my life more meaning than anything else.

And as far as non-religious holidays go: Valentine’s Day celebrates love. Halloween celebrates….well our strange fascination with death I suppose. New Years celebrates the new year.

Pioneer Day is a holiday that celebrates our humanity as a whole. A pioneer is someone who does something for the first time. They learn, explore, and create. This is a holiday that celebrates us and our humanity.

You can see this holiday in a few different ways. There are the traditional pioneer stories such as that of Mary Murray Murdoch, or Wee Granny.

She chose to leave Scotland to come to the United States and make the trek across the plains. She was in her 80’s. She could have stayed in Scotland and lived out her days, but she didn’t. She died on the way across the plains and they buried her near Chimney Rock.

One could see her as foolish. I see her as brave. She chose to go into the unknown because of what she believed in. Even if she never saw Zion, she chose to at least try. That’s all we can do.

Another way you can look at it is to look at pioneers of science, technology, and thought. These are people like Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing, and so on. The people that Google highlights on the regular in their doodles. They are pioneers.

And then there’s every single human on the planet as well. Each one of us on this floating blue marble has something to give to the world. Something that we pioneer. We go out into each new day and face the unknown. We may not be pulling handcarts or calculating complex life-changing equations (or perhaps we are) but we are making changes in our life every day that change our world and the worlds of those around us.

Each of us is a pioneer. Each day we get out of bed and go out into the world, we are pioneers. Those who came before us brought us to this point, we’ll change our world as we live in it, and those changes will affect those who come after us. We are pioneers.

That’s what this holiday is about, truly. It’s for looking back on those who came before us and validating their struggles. Because they were just like us. They had hopes and dreams. They had love and light and laughter. They had tremendous sorrow and frustration. And they kept going. They kept walking. They kept trying. And that’s all that any of us can do.

Here’s to the pioneers

Who blistered and baked

In the sun while they ached

Hoping for a better tomorrow

Here’s to the pioneers

Scorned and disdained,

Their brilliance unrestrained

Hoping for a better tomorrow

Here’s to the pioneers

Those people each day

Paving out their own way

Hoping for a better tomorrow

Here’s to us all, the Pioneers of Tomorrow

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