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Church News Viewpoint: Be a pioneer

The announcer for the 2015 Days of ’47 Union Pacific Youth Parade in downtown Salt Lake City on July 18 spoke about children, their heritage and their pioneer future.

Each float in the parade captured this pioneer spirit in unique and different ways.

Some paid tribute to the past. Others looked to the future.

The Farmington Utah South Stake float, for example, featured a computerized covered wagon that will help children forge their way into a technical future. The Salt Lake Jordan Stake float celebrated a future where the nations of the world are unified through service and kindness. Youth from the Sandy Utah Willow Creek Stake dressed as super heroes, looking to the future with faith, strength and courage. And the Draper Utah Corner Canyon Stake promoted the idea of feeding the world one can of food at a time.

Held just six days before Utah residents celebrated Pioneer Day on July 24, the parade was a way to honor Utah’s pioneer heritage. An important part of that heritage is the company of Mormon pioneers who entered the Valley in 1847 and made the desert blossom as a rose.

President Thomas S. Monson said during his April 1997 general conference address, “Pioneers All,” that Latter-day Saints today should honor the early pioneers.

“We praise their names and reflect on their sacrifices,” he said.

President Gordon B. Hinckley wrote in a July 1984 Ensign article that it is “good to look to the past to gain appreciation for the present and perspective for the future. It is good to look upon the virtues of those who have gone before, to gain strength for whatever lies ahead. It is good to reflect upon the work of those who labored so hard and gained so little in this world, but out of whose dreams and early plans, so well nurtured, has come a great harvest of which we are the beneficiaries.”

President Hinckley, continued: “Can a generation that lives with central heating and air conditioning, with the automobile and the airplane, with the miracle of television and the magic of the computer understand, appreciate and learn from the lives and motives of those who had none of these and yet accomplished much of tremendous consequence?

“In the environment in which many of us live, there is need for reminders of lessons learned in the past. In our times of abundance, it is good occasionally to be taken back to earlier days, to have our minds refocused on the struggles of the early Latter-day Saints, to remind us of the necessity for labor if the earth is to be made to yield, of the importance of faith in God if there is to be lasting achievement, and of the need to recognize that many of the so-called old values are worthy of present application.

“Oh, how much is faith needed in each of our lives — faith in ourselves, faith in our associates, and faith in the living God.”

Looking back, and then looking forward with faith, is one way we can all become pioneers.

A new Church initiative on FamilySearch.org helps Latter-day Saints today identify what legacy they will leave for future generations.

Visitors to https://familysearch.org/iamapioneer can watch the “I Am a Pioneer” video. The web page and video encourage people to become modern-day pioneers and then share their unique contributions on social media using #IAmAPioneer.

As we look at our lives and move forward with pioneer faith, we will each discover individual accomplishments that will inspire future generations.

Many floats in the youth parade encouraged parade goers to study the past and preserve their own pioneering history for future generations.

For example, floats for the South Jordan Utah River Ridge Stake, the Taylorsville Utah South Stake, the South Jordan Utah Highland Stake, the Riverton Utah South Stake, and the Riverton Utah Copperview Stake highlighted youth who are pioneering family history.

The Murray Utah Little Cottonwood Stake looked back to preserving records through scrolls and forward to electronic tablets — including a future that pioneers new ways to preserve records and share truth.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, said in his October 2002 general conference address, “I have no ancestors among the 19th-century pioneers. However, since the first days of my Church membership, I have felt a close kinship to those early pioneers who crossed the plains. They are my spiritual ancestry, as they are for each and every member of the Church, regardless of nationality, language, or culture. They have established not only a safe place in the West but also a spiritual foundation for the building of the kingdom of God in all the nations of the world.”

President Monson, in a July 2011 First Presidency message, wrote, “We each can learn much from our early pioneer ancestors, whose struggles and heartaches were met with resolute courage and an abiding faith in a living God. ...

“Youth and children were among the thousands who pulled and pushed handcarts or walked along that pioneer trail, just as they are among the Saints today who are pioneering in their own areas throughout the world. I think that there is not a member of this Church today who has not been touched by the accounts of the early pioneers. Those who did so much for the good of all surely had as their objective to inspire faith. They met the goal in a magnificent manner.”

May each of us follow their lead.

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