Deseret Morning News archives

In 1912, at age 20, Ida Alldredge left her home in the Mormon Colonies near Chihuahua, Mexico and moved to Arizona. She knew firsthand what it felt like to live a rugged life and be on the move. And that made her appreciate the Mormon pioneers who had dealt with similar trials in spades.

Some 36 years later, Alldredge's tribute appeared as the LDS hymn, "They, the Builders of the Nation." The music is by Alfred M. Durham, master musician of Beaver, Utah. The faithful embraced the tune and words wholeheartedly the day it appeared.

Today, congregations still sing the hymn each July — not just to honor the pioneers, but to remind themselves of the kind of qualities they need to develop in order to shoulder their burdens and challenges. The opening stanza — put to Durham's rousing, brassy march rhythms — sets the tone for the anthem:

They, the builders of the nation,

Blazing trails along the way;

Stepping stones for generations

Were their deeds of every day.

Then comes the verse that serves as a textbook for the qualities of heart and spirit. It is a verse about character.

Service ever was their watch-cry;

Love became their guiding star;

Courage, their unfailing beacon,

Radiating near and far.

And today, Pioneer Day 2007, the hymn is still a textbook for how to live a good life.

First, pioneers are builders, not destroyers. They raise and lift, they don't topple and tear down.

Deeds done daily become a path for others to follow. It's important that path lead somewhere worthwhile.

And finally, the triple-threat traits of people who have the stamina and inner "steel" to take on a trek across the plains or simply take on the task of raising families: service, love and courage.

Not everyone can be a pioneer. Not everyone cares to be. But sometimes people are forced to go beyond their limits and do things they didn't think themselves capable of doing. It's important to have the health and physical strength to tackle such tasks, but even more important — Ida Alldredge seems to be saying — it's vital to be just as strong and sturdy on the inside.

Her anthem ends the only way a tribute to pioneers can end: with resolution and verve.

Honor, praise and veneration,

To the founders we revere!

List our song of adoration,

Blessed, honored, pioneer!

Happy 24th of July to all.