Pioneer Day is a great opportunity for us to stop looking backward and start looking forward.
In Utah this weekend, people are celebrating Pioneer Day in remembrance of when the first Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley and settled in the state. There are parades, concerts, stories, and songs, especially in our church meetings on July 24. Even for non-mormons in Utah, the day has been co-opted as “Pie and Beer” Day to ensure that everyone has something to celebrate. Well, I don’t have any pioneer heritage and I don't drink beer, so I am still feeling a little left out. But I have an idea for us all to shift the message from looking backward to helping people today and in the future.
Ostensibly, Pioneer Day provides members of the Church an other Utahns an opportunity to celebrate a day that represents how Mormons were driven out of the United States because of religious persecution in every city and state they had tried to settle. They fled the country and wound up in what was then, Mexico to seek freedom from oppression and a new start. To be blunt, pioneers are refugees.
So let’s celebrate that. All this weekend take the opportunity to learn a little more about the global refugee crisis going on. Familiarize your self with iwasastranger.lds.org and maybe reach out to some local organizations working to help educate, employ and equip refugee families living in your city. Share a story with us on Facebook or on MormonPress.com and help others know how they can be helpful by your example.
The pioneers by no means had it easy. We remember their sacrifice every year. But lets do a little bit better of a job connecting the stories of their plight with the reality of the millions of families experiencing the same struggles right now.