Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the greater Chattanooga recently celebrated Pioneer Day. Pioneer Day is an annual event celebrated by LDS congregations throughout the world to commemorate July 24, 1847 – the day the first Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley.
Fleeing persecution, tens of thousands of Mormon refugees and converts went west before the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. The journey was hard. Some lost their lives. Others buried their dead – their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, families and friends. They crossed the wide Mississippi River, the Great Rocky Mountains and everything in between – until Brigham Young looked over the Salt Lake Valley and said, “It is enough. This is the right place.”
The early pioneers made the desert blossom like a rose. Some 171 years later, the White House posted a Presidential Message on Pioneer Day. President Donald J. Trump and the First Lady said it best:
"Melania and I send our best wishes to all those celebrating Pioneer Day.
"On this day in 1847, Brigham Young and the first group of Latter-day Saint pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley to begin building a new home for their families. Fleeing persecution, these families undertook a difficult journey spanning more than a thousand miles from Illinois to the Utah territory. In the years that followed, nearly 70,000 men, women, and children charted similar paths across windswept plains and rugged mountains in search of religious freedom and a better way of life.
"Our Nation honors the ingenuity, industry, and unwavering commitment to faith of all those who endured frontier hardships. These pioneers worked tirelessly to transform the arid desert landscape into a blossoming new home where their families could live in peace and prosperity. The legacy they helped build across the American West lives on through hundreds of cities and towns that continue to thrive in the 21st century.
"Today, we remember the extraordinary pioneers who uprooted their lives and undertook an incredible leap of faith into the unknown. Their stories and accomplishments are lasting reminders of the importance of religious freedom and the enduring strength and spirit of the American people."