Happy May Day to all. This month we transition from spring to summer. We have enjoyed April showers; may our gardens now be beautiful and our crops bountiful.
Please remember that nominations for National President-elect remain open until May 31, and the nomination form is once again available here in the Trail Marker. The forms for registration for the National Encampment at Rexburg, Idaho September 17 to 19, are also included. Please be aware of these dates and plan accordingly.
For many years Americans have observed Cinco de Mayo, commemorating May 5, 1862 when at the Battle of Puebla, Mexican forces under command of Benito Juarez defeated a French army which had been occupying Mexico. The United States was in the midst of the Civil War. The Mexican victory preserved the United States policy of preventing European interference in the Americas. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cinco de Mayo and many usual celebrations will be observed quietly, alone, or in small groups, or perhaps be cancelled.
That is also true for V. E. Day celebrating Germany’s unconditional surrender signed on May 7, 1945 at Reims, France ending World War II in Europe. Each May 7 we recall with grateful hearts V.E. Day, and we remember all our Veterans with Veterans’ Day on the last Monday of May.
Last year we observed the 150th anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike at Promontory Summit, Utah on May 9, 1869. That date marked the completion of the first Transcontinental railroad and the beginning a major advancement for shipping and travel. Today’s challenges, preventing such observances, are in sharp contrast to that wonderful celebration of just one year ago.
On May 14, 1607, settlers led by John Smith established the first permanent English settlement in America at Jamestown, Virginia. From that small, tenuous beginning the great Republic of the United States grew to what it is today. The Jamestown observance is also being cancelled.
Since 1875 the running of the Kentucky Derby has occurred on the first Saturday of May. Because of the current pandemic, the Derby has been postponed until September.
May is a month of much historical significance. In this unusual year, many traditional celebrations and events, including the SUP symposium, have unfortunately been canceled or postponed as we maintain social distancing.
Because the Hill Cumorah Pageant was postponed until 2021, we are also postponing the Vision Trek until July 2021. If you have paid your down payment, continue to watch and pray for this unique opportunity to come to fruition.
SUPer DUPer Day on July 20th at This is the Place State Park, devotional speaker, and SUP activities have been canceled, but reduced rates are still available for SUP families for that day.
On the second Sunday of May we honor all mothers on a day set aside as Mothers’ Day. Hopefully, we will all honor our mothers, wives, daughters, and daughters-in-law. I would like to pay special tribute to the Pioneer Mothers who worked so hard to make the best of bad situations.
Pioneer women shared in all the endless work and hardship of pioneering. Their spirit and fortitude equaled that of the men. Then as now, the center of life was the home; where a pioneer woman’s work seemed never to be done. There were few days off and few, if any, vacations. The work of the home does not include the endless service to neighbors and friends, as well as service to the Church.
Mothers cooked and baked in heavy iron pots and skillets over open fires or wood and coal burning stoves. They also did the house cleaning and filled all the demands of wives and mothers.
As with my grandmother, women milked the cows, strained the milk, cranked the cream separator, churned and molded the butter, worked in the garden, made their own soap, and washed clothes on a washboard in a number 3 tub. As if this were not enough, wives and mothers spun wool, did the weaving, made clothes, usually for a large number of children, and washed, ironed, and mended those clothes.
In many cases pioneers left home and family to undertake an arduous transatlantic voyage to America. They moved on to Missouri, or Ohio, then to Illinois and finally to Utah. In the process they left graves of family members in distant places, buried parents, husbands, brothers, sisters and children along the trail. There had to be longings for homes and family members left behind and whom they might never see again.
Young Cornelia McCallister, who would become plural wife of John D. T. McCallister, was disowned by a well to do mother when she joined the Church in Philadelphia in 1854. She crossed the plains at a young age, suffered from mumps as she continued to walk beside a wagon, and became totally deaf for the rest of her life. She became mother to a large family, and when called to do so, relocated to St. George. Eventually, she added being temple matron to her other responsibilities.
Cornelia was among the plural wives who were arrested by U.S. Marshalls and forced to testify against their husbands in court. She was totally deaf, but could read lips and speak well because she was nearing her teen years before she became deaf. When she was called to testify, she did not answer the questions, pretending to be confused and not knowing what was being asked. As a result of her deception, her husband escaped conviction. She believed her actions were justified because she was denied the Constitutional protection of a spouse not having to testify against one’s husband or wife.
Pioneer mothers accomplished and suffered all of this with little or no complaining, even as they endured the fears and uncertainties surrounding them. There were nativeAmericans often nearby constituting a potential threat to lives and property. They endured freezing winters, drought and near unbearable heat. There was the threat of starvation, and deadly contagious disease, such as small pox and scarlet fever, plus a great deal of tension over “the raids” of the Federal Marshalls. There was no indoor plumbing, no electricity, and schools were few and rudimentary. It was often mothers who taught the children to read, write and do arithmetic.
Establishing a new home and bringing a farm under cultivation was no easy matter. To add to all other challenges, money was usually scarce. Mothers made do or did without and taught the values of thrift and hard work to their children.
I hope we will all pay homage to the pioneer mothers who endured the suffering, miseries, dangers, and privations that proved necessary to succeed as a pioneer wife and mother. Please also remember all the women in your life on Mothers’ Day for all they do and for what all the mothers in your family mean to you and your children and grandchildren.
Yes, May is a special month. Let us all remember the importance of these special events and people in our lives. Happy Mothers’ Day to you mothers, and wishes for a healthy and happy May to all of you.
2020 National President