The Watchman

The Watchman

Friday, July 27, 2012

What a Community Can Do

In Utah the 24th of July is dedicated to the commemoration of the Mormon Pioneers entering the Salt Lake Valley.  The legacy those first settlers left of perseverance, charity, determination, and faith helped form the foundation for this State that I love.  I have many pioneer ancestors, as does Rick.  As a child I listened to my Grandma Cook and my Great-Aunts tell their stories.  As an adult I have enjoyed reading the biographies and journals these great people left behind.

One of the great lessons of the pioneers is that of community or working together.  They understood that the group was only as strong as its weakest member and so were willing to open their homes and share what they had with those less fortunate.  Even today, members of the LDS Church are asked to fast once a month and donate the money saved to the Church for the aiding of the poor.

Early Church members would also come together to build and to celebrate.  There were no construction companies that could be hired to do the work, so neighbors gathered together to erect homes, barns, businesses, and to build temples.  Many of these gatherings became social occasions.  At the end of a long day of work, neighbors would gather together to eat and often times listen to music and to dance.  Brigham Young, Second Prophet and President of the LDS Church and the man who led the exodus to the Salt Lake Valley and the colonization of Utah, is quoted as saying, "There is no music in hell, for all good music belongs to heaven."

Community was the theme of our 24th of July this year.

On Saturday, we took my parents and visited with our friends in Salt Lake at their annual neighborhood party entitled "The Cul de Sac of Fire".  This is the 8th or 9th year this neighborhood has gathered together to put on the party.  The band is made up of neighbors and if you are so inclined you can join in.  Each neighbor puts in a small amount to help purchase the fireworks, candy for the candy cannon and glo-sticks. Those who attend are asked to bring their own meat for the available grills and a dish to share with the 300 or so gathered.  It was a great party!

While we were in Salt Lake, our LDS Stake was sponsoring a community party of its own.  On Saturday they gathered together to build a trail in Springdale.  There were many that thought this couldn't be done in the time allotted.  Not only were the more than 250 volunteers able to complete the proposed trail, but they were able to help with another smaller project as well.  This trail has been considered for a few years, but the Town and Trails Committee had not known how it was going to accomplish it.  When the representative from the Stake came and asked for a project, the Town knew that this was it.

Then on the 24th of July, our day began with our community parade.  Our girls dressed as pioneers, but instead of riding in a wagon, they were able to ride on a trailer pulled by a big truck.

That evening, residents of the communities of Rockville, Springdale, Virgin, La Verkin and Toquerville gathered in the Springdale Town Park for a barbecue, games and entertainment.  There were close to 1,000 people in attendance at that party.  It was a great time to see old friends and make new ones.  The entertainment provided by the Chamberlain family was excellent and the food was delicious.  Wildcat Willies deserves a big shout out for catering the event.

The day ended with a Pioneer Extravaganza held in the OC Tanner Amphitheater.  My daughters were able to perform with a children's choir from the five communities.  It was a great program reinforcing our pioneer heritage and the power of a community that comes together regardless of our differences.  And that is the lesson that I hope my children will remember.

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