Sarah Jane Weaver
The best way to honor the pioneers goes beyond making and hearing speeches, marching in parades or attending fireworks celebrations, said President Dieter F. Uchtdorf on July 13.
“The best way we can show our gratitude is by incorporating into our own lives the faithfulness to God’s commandments, the compassion and love for our fellowmen, the industry, optimism and joy the pioneers demonstrated so well in their own lives,” he said.
Speaking during the annual Pioneer Days Devotional in Ogden, Utah, President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, addressed the topic “All Is Well.”
A capacity crowd of more than 11,500 gathered in the Dee Events Center on the campus of Weber State University for the program, which also included remarks by Weber State University President Charles A. Wight and patriotic music from the Ogden Institute Resound Choir.
President Uchtdorf began his address by speaking not only of the pioneer heritage he and his wife, Harriet, claim as their own, but also of their German heritage.
President Uchtdorf said more than a century and a half has passed since the first Mormon pioneers made the 1,300-mile trek from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Salt Lake Valley.
“What they and those who followed them did was very difficult and dangerous. I doubt that many of those who set foot on that journey really understood what they were getting into or that they looked forward to the daily effort it eventually required. They knew it was going to be hard — that there was a possibility they or someone they loved would not finish the journey. And yet they came.”
As a result, he said, the Church, the nation and even the world are richer because of the pioneers.
President Uchtdorf said the pioneers who came to the area acted with faith and courage. “They believed that God had a plan for them and a place prepared where they could worship God and live their religion in peace,” he said. “It is no wonder that 160 years later we still commemorate their achievement with songs, speeches, parades, fireworks, commemorative treks, pins, balloons, banners and T-shirts.”
He said that even though his ancestors were not numbered among those who trekked to the Salt Lake Valley, “their example has influenced my life for good.”
“I treasure the foundation they established for the restored gospel. I honor what they did, what they became and what they gave to us as a result of their sacrifice.”
Whether we descended from the pioneers or not, it is wise to remember that the glory of their sacrifice belongs to them, he explained. “Our generation will need to stand on our own achievements, not on those of previous generations.“
President Uchtdorf said, in the life to come, he will be eager to meet the “legendary giants who gave so much to found these cities here in the valleys of the mountains.”
“I think they will be pleased by our interest in them,” he said. “I think they will be humbled by our admiration. But I also believe that they will be far more concerned not about what they did, but about what we did as a result of their sacrifice.
“I have a feeling they will be pleased far more by our performance than by applause, praise or parades. They will want to know if we gained anything from the hard-won lessons they learned through tribulation and trial. They will want to know if their sacrifice and endurance made a difference to us and our children.”
President Uchtdorf spoke of three pioneer attributes that inspire him: compassion, work and optimism.