“Saints Celebrate Pioneer Day,” Ensign, Oct. 2003, 76–77
Starting off a weeklong celebration commemorating the 156th anniversary of the pioneers entering the Salt Lake Valley, President James E. Faust reminded Saints of the faith, courage, and spiritual strength demonstrated by the pioneers and those who live the gospel of Jesus Christ.
President Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, spoke to thousands gathered at the Conference Center and more via broadcast satellite on 20 July for the annual Pioneer Day devotional.
President Faust’s remarks came at the conclusion of a musical tribute to early LDS pioneers by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square.
“In the spirit of the pioneers, together we welcome and embrace one another in the community of Saints to which we all belong,” President Faust said. “We go forward with our lives in devotion, loyalty, and integrity,” building on the foundation laid by the pioneers, but calling on “a different kind of spiritual strength to resist the sometimes overpowering influences of our time.”
On Pioneer Day—the 24th of July—Elder Merrill C. Oaks, a member of the Seventy and Second Counselor in the Utah North Area Presidency, addressed more than 1,000 people gathered in the Tabernacle on Temple Square for an early morning service to pay homage to the Saints’ pioneer forefathers.
“May those today—who are the beneficiaries of the pioneers’ courage and sacrifice—hold in remembrance not only the great individuals who gave so much, but also the principles and cause for which they sacrificed,” said Elder Oaks.
Later that day, unseasonably hot temperatures didn’t keep parade-goers from lining the streets in downtown Salt Lake City to view the 120 floats and entries depicting the theme “Utah! For the Pioneer in All of Us” in the annual Days of ’47 Parade. President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and his wife, Frances, made an appearance in the parade.
Other events celebrating pioneers included the Days of ’47 Youth Parade, where some 5,000 children and youth gathered on 19 July to walk with brightly decorated floats, some of which observed the 125th anniversary of the Primary organization.
Pioneer celebrations also took place in other corners of the world. More than 100 members of the Vaiola Ward, Savaii Samoa Stake, on the island of Savaii in Samoa held a pioneer trek reenactment complete with six covered wagons.
In Moscow, Russia, cooks at the hotel where Utah athletes were staying for the Moscow Utah Youth Games presented the athletes with three large cakes on Pioneer Day.
Church News contributed to this report.