I believe if you asked your friends what is the first thing they think of when they think of the word “pioneer”, it would most likely be that of the photo above. Those brave, if not crazy, early Americans who braved the unknown to start a life out in Western America. But, for so many who spent hundreds of hours researching their genealogy, they are single-mindedly focused their European, African, or Asian roots. In doing so, we may be missing out on some of our bravest and most creative family members. Certainly, traveling for months at a time on ships across a sea to a place you can only imagine is phenomenal; but, our American ancestors were no less courageous.
How many of us have ancestors who entered the United States as immigrants in those very early years, later packed up their family, boarded a wagon with every possession they could fit along with provisions of food and shelter, to brave the unknown? I would imagine a lot! My father had uncles who left Virginia as young men in their late teens/early twenties and traveled to Montana. His uncle Lee learned to be a butcher while working in ranching in Montana, but later moved on to California later to make his permanent residence, while his Uncle Hardin would stay in Montana and become a postmaster.
Pioneering didn’t just end at the 1900s. People from then on have aided in pioneering new communities, new technologies, new civic groups and building new companies which have made our country what it is today. It is the same spirit that our ancestors had when they moved out west. Have you been involved with starting a new church, or new civic organization in your community? Have you pioneered any programs to aid your community? How will you pass this information on to your descendants?
One of my greatest joys to share with my children is the tree planted near one of middle schools where we live. It was planted in honor and memory of my father by his Rotary Club. He had served as president, but most importantly he founded a program to assist travelers on the interstate which runs through our community when they are broken down or injured due to an accident. At least twice while I was growing up we had travelers stay in our home after being released from the hospital before they were due to fly out for home. This program continues today because of what my father did. It is important that this be passed down.
Pioneering spirit doesn’t have to be something world-shattering. Spend some time thinking about your parents and what they did for their community? Do you volunteer? Are you a foster parent? Did you start a Sunday School class? Did you start a clothes closet or food bank? What you do for your world matters. Pass it on!