July 27, 2012

Casual Friday: Pioneer Day

This past Tuesday, July 24, was Pioneer Day in Utah and throughout western Mormondom (and slightly beyond). The date memorializes the entrance of Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley. In particular, it celebrates the moment when Brigham Young mythically raised himself up on an elbow (he was riding sick in the back of a wagon, as the story goes) and declared, "This is the right place--move on!" Well, that's how it's remembered and told to many a young Utah history student. There have been some efforts to make the holiday a more inclusive event, even if Mormon actors remain central.

David Grua, at the Juvenile Instructor (a Mormon history blog), discusses one such effort in his pioneer day post on the dedication of the "This is the Place" Monument, which was dedicated on Pioneer Day in 1947 at the base of Emigration Canyon, just outside of Salt Lake City. David's thoughtful post considers the role of monument making in the molding of American memory and asks whether this particular monument was successful in its goal to situate the Mormon people in a place of prominence in American history--what Laurie Maffly-Kipp has referred to as "The Long Approach to the Mormon Moment."

 Others in the Mormon bloggernacle have also noted, and blogged about, the occasion of this Western holiday. At Mormon Times, Emily Jensen provides a roundup of the blogs and their ideas for Celebrating Pioneer Day. Check it out.

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