Pioneer Day is history all Utahns can appreciate

Utah’s July 24 celebration of the summer day in 1847 when Mormon leader Brigham Young reportedly looked down on the Salt Lake Valley from the foothills near Emigration Canyon and uttered the words “This is the right place. Drive on,” might seem like a distinctly LDS holiday.

Yet, as a proud native Utahn and a Catholic, I feel very much a part of the event. Just look at the granite This Is the Place Monument marking the spot where the Mormon leader made his proclamation. It not only includes LDS leaders but also a diverse collection of Spanish Catholic explorers, American Indians and trappers who make up Utah’s unique cultural heritage.

The fact that I honor July 24 and have often attended the big Salt Lake City parade and written about the dozens of interesting small-town celebrations that mark the event throughout Utah might seem a bit odd to some of my fellow non-Mormons, many of whom delight in putting down the holiday.

I’ve always wondered how many Utahns who call themselves Christians and would be offended at any racist or sexist slur have no trouble at all making disparaging remarks about Mormons. I know that, in the past, I’ve made that mistake. And, I deeply regret it.

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