Celebrating the Mormon Pioneers

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Pioneer handcarts lined up

July 24 marks Pioneer Day — a day Utahns and members of the LDS Church commemorate the first Mormon pioneers‘ arrival in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.

The group, led by Brigham Young, traveled more than 1,300 miles to reach the valley. It was on July 24 they reached their destination and Brigham Young said, “This is the right place.”

A monument in This is the Place Heritage Park honors the moment, although the actual spot where Brigham Young made his declaration is several hundred yards to the northeast.

Between 1846 and 1868, 70,000 Mormon pioneers journeyed the trail from Illinois to Utah. It took about 75 days to travel the trail by handcart, according to LDS.org.

Pioneer Day is an official state holiday in Utah. The first statewide Pioneer Day celebration took place on July 23 and 24, 1857, according to Utah’s Online Library.

Since then, it’s been celebrated with parades, pioneer trek re-enactments, concerts, rodeos, and more.

“Whether or not you are a descendant of pioneers, the Mormon pioneer heritage of faith and sacrifice is your heritage,” Elder William R. Walker said in an April 2014 General Conference talk. “It is the noble heritage of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Today, we give thanks for those who came before us.

Ashley Lee is a news media student with a minor in editing at Brigham Young University. Her hobbies include reading, stand-up paddleboarding, and reciting seasons 1-5 of The Office word-for-word. She hopes to be a reporter for a national newspaper after graduation.