HUMOR – After escaping religious persecution and the eventual extermination order issued by the governor of Illinois, and after traveling 1,300 miles through treacherous conditions without the hope of even a Motel 6 on the horizon, Brigham Young entered the Salt Lake Valley and declared, “This is the right place.”
Shortly thereafter he added, “Now hustle and build ye an IKEA store, some ski resorts, and about two thousand designer cupcake bakeries.”
Not really. I presume that the top priorities of those early settlers were water, food, and shelter from the blazing desert heat. In light of this, I suppose I should stop complaining about St. George not having a Trader Joe’s.
In all, approximately 70,000 Mormon pioneers made the trek to Utah following Brigham Young’s arrival. Some traveled by covered wagon. As many as 30,000 pioneers traveled from Europe. Some pulled heavy handcarts through mud and snow and ice across the plains and over mountains. Sometimes I am too tired to push my shopping cart back into the shopping cart corral in the Target parking lot.
Some walked the 1,300 miles without shoes. You have read correctly. Some of those early Mormon pioneers walked across what is now the United States with no shoes on their feet. Many lost limbs from frostbite. I feel weird when my shoes do not quite “go” with my outfit.
While I greatly appreciate the pioneers who settled Utah so that I would be free to enjoy these red cliffs from the comfort of my air conditioned living room, I am not related to any of them. My parents were the first of their families to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. None of my ancestors were Mormon pioneers.
That fact became abundantly clear at the most recent St. George half marathon. The race was a painful ordeal for me, but it was easy to spot the Stahelis, the Hafens, the Ences, and the Leavitts on the race course. They are the genetic remainder of the survivors of a grueling 1,300 mile cross-continent trek. Their bodies are built for endurance. They are the jerks who tell you, “You’re doing great!” around mile 12 when you are near death and they have barely broken a sweat.
I want to be strong like those pioneers, like a Staheli or an Ence. I want to push myself a little harder and complain a little less. I want to be able to sacrifice for something that matters and be brave enough to walk across a continent. I am not ready to give up my air conditioning, though. That is a deal breaker.
Since that day in 1847 Utahns have celebrated the arrival of Brigham Young and those first settlers every July 24 with parades and fireworks. This seems insufficient. I say that we show those pioneers that their sacrifice meant something by whining less and working harder. Let’s make Utah an even better place to live. And let’s start by bringing in a Trader Joe’s.
Elise Haynes chronicles family life in her blog Haynes Family Yard Sale. Any opinions stated in this column are her own and not necessarily those of St. George News.
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