OPINION – When Pioneer Day is celebrated across state this coming Friday, it will be honoring the heritage of those who settled the Utah territory nearly 160 years ago.
Anyone who gets the day off or enjoys parades, festivities and fireworks can find a reason to appreciate the July 24th holiday. Meanwhile, skeptics who sourly fret over whether recognizing Mormon pioneers constitutes an official establishment of religion are missing the point.
The Pioneer Day holiday honors the values, courage, and unfailing determination shown by our ancestors. It is a recognition that the foundations for the beauty, peace and prosperity that we currently enjoy were laid by those who came before us.
Their efforts included deep personal sacrifices and a willingness to think and plan beyond the present. Even today, modern motorcycle riders still appreciate the wide old streets in St. George that were built wide enough to turn a team of horses and wagon.
There is much to appreciate about our heritage. Few things help us recognize its true value like experiencing it through the eyes of a visitor.
Last week I had that opportunity when I was invited to a dinner at the Diamond Z Ranch near Cedar City. Among the guests was country music artist Darryl Worley and a number of county commissioners from across the state, including Commissioners Alan Gardner from Washington County, Alma Adams and Dave Miller from Iron County, Mark Whitney from Beaver County, Leland Pollock from Garfield County, Phil Lyman from San Juan County, and commissioners from Weber County and Kane County; Washington County Administrator Dean Cox also attended.
Worley and his road manager Joe had flown out from Nashville earlier in the day to attend the gathering. The purpose of the dinner was to present the idea for a Western Freedom Festival later this fall.
Several of the commissioners took a few moments to share a few thoughts and Worley also spoke to us and performed his hit song “Do You Remember?”
As I looked around the small group, I saw a lot of cowboy boots, weathered faces and calloused hands. Though these men currently hold elected office, none of them are strangers to the kind of backbreaking work that has helped build Southern Utah.
As I listened to their remarks, it was clear that they were doing their best to represent the people of their respective counties. This is one of the strongest arguments for government that remains close to the people rather than governing from afar.
Each of those who spoke echoed a desire to keep alive the traditions of freedom, faith, family and economic prosperity. They spoke of the real harm being done to good people by overbearing and heavy-handed regulatory overreach.
These challenges are not easily understood by those who have not yet been directly affected by those policies. It was particularly revealing early in the evening when Worley asked the commissioners about this “BLM” they kept referencing.
Living in Tennessee, Worley pointed out that federal land managers there are extremely rare. This is true in most states east of the Mississippi River where state and private ownership of land is the rule and not the exception.
As Worley spoke to us, he marveled at the rich heritage we enjoy in this corner of the Beehive State. He affirmed that the most foundational institutions of America’s heritage of freedom are under nonstop attack across the nation today.
Long-held traditions are being regulated out of existence and for the first time in many generations, Southern Utahns are in danger of losing touch with their heritage. To help rekindle the sense of connection with our heritage, the Western Freedom Festival has been scheduled for Oct. 23 in Cedar City.
It is intended to be a rallying point for those who still cherish the core values of freedom, family, responsible stewardship, economic prosperity and the other traits that made Southern Utah. Darryl Worley will be the headline entertainer at the festival.
The Western Freedom Festival will help reinforce that there are many institutions besides politics that help shape our communities. It’s time to restore them to their proper place and function.
A people who do not remember where they came from are apt to forget who they are. Those who do not understand their own history become like little children who depend upon self-appointed experts to tell them what to think of themselves.
An effort to reprogram the thinking of Americans by attempting to cut them off from their history is already underway in many parts of the nation.
Consider attending the Western Freedom Festival in October and learn why the parts of our heritage that have made Southern Utah a great place to live will never go out of style.
Bryan Hyde is a radio commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
- Western Freedom Festival | Facebook page | Facebook event page | Website (construction in progress) | Twitter @WestFreedomFest
- When: Oct. 23
- Where: Centrum Arena at Southern Utah University, 351 W University Blvd, Cedar City
- Description from the event’s Facebook page: “Celebrating the core values of Freedom, Family values, Enterprising Economy, Educated
Electorate, Stewardship of Lands & Resources”
- Featuring Darryl Worley
- Hatch speaks on fruits of freedom at ‘Freedom Festival’
- ‘Only by Blood and Suffering;’ a new book about freedom
- Perspectives: Stories connect us to our heritage
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.