Pioneer Day is an interesting day for me.
Having grown up in Utah, I understand the importance it has to those who call the Beehive State home. July 24 is a day of celebration — a day to commemorate the moment when Brigham Young declared “this is the place” the first time he set eyes on it. Those of us lucky enough to call it home — from Logan to St. George, from Vernal to Wendover and all points in between — owe a great debt of gratitude to those who came before us.
There’s also the added bonus of an extra day off between Independence Day and Labor Day. This year, it fell on a Wednesday. Anything that makes a Monday feel less like a Monday is obviously welcomed. My roommate and I took the chance to enjoy a summer day at Lagoon as neither of us had to work, meaning there was another bonus — the chance to sleep in.
(Unfortunately for me, the rare opportunity for me to watch The Price is Right was preempted by the Robert Mueller Congressional hearings. I would rather have seen the Showcase Showdown than a showdown between Adam Schiff and Devin Nunes.)
One thing about Lagoon — it’s just as fun in my mid-30s as it was when I was a kid. The issue is I don’t have boundless energy like I did when I was younger. After a few hours and hitting up all the rides, we decided not to wait for the rest of our group to get off work to join us. Instead, we headed home to bask in the comfort of central air conditioning. It’s not the fault of Lagoon or amusement parks in general — I just value a good nap and climate control.
Pioneer Day goes by another name for some Utahns — Pie and Beer Day. Not surprisingly, after returning home from Lagoon, a quick perusal of the grocery store shelves at the supermarket nearest my house revealed a shortage of both pie and beer. That’s probably for the best, especially considering my already-questionable dietary choices.
However, there is one factor that makes Pioneer Day a truly tough one to wrap myself around. Three years ago, my grandmother passed away on July 24 after a brief battle with cancer. She has never been far from my mind, and never more so than on Pioneer Day.
I was so lucky to have her as my biggest fan for the first 32-plus years of my life, and to this day, I can always hear her voice in the back of my mind encouraging me every step of the way. As I evaluate whether I can return to school this fall to continue working toward my Spanish degree — the one she told me to get as she was in her final days — July 24 leaves me with one feeling above all.
It’s the motivation to persevere, just like the pioneers did before us. It might take a year and a half to finish that degree. It might take five years. It will be difficult and certainly far from pleasant at times. But making my grandmother proud is the reward.
That is my place.
Darren Vaughan is the sports editor for the Transcript Bulletin. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.