No matter where you fall in the love-hate continuum with the United States, the 4th of July is certainly a national holiday that focuses on US history, honoring those that have served our country, especially in the military, and the close bonds of families. Oh, and did I mention fireworks? You can't have Independence Day without fireworks.
Unless you live in Utah, or grew up in the LDS church, you may not know as much about Pioneer Day, which is usually celebrated on July 24th. In Utah the focus is pretty heavily on the pioneers who settled Utah. Outside of Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, which were all heavily influenced by the Mormon migration, LDS members tend to see the celebration a little differently.
While the date has a lot to do with when the Mormon pioneers got to Utah, most wards I have lived in celebrate Pioneer Day as a day for all LDS pioneers. One ward I lived in had a celebration which focused on the pioneers in each family. Pioneer was defined as anyone who joined the LDS church, who was not born into an LDS family. It was really great to hear about parents or grandparents who had listened to missionaries, and come to believe in the Book of Mormon and the LDS church, from all over the world. Living in Oregon, a lot of those conversions happened here, or somewhere in the US, but several members of the ward shared stories of their ancestors who were converted in Russia, Argentina, Japan and India. My mom joined the church when she was 18, and her faith and the choices she made impacted all of her children and now grandchildren. While none of our ancestors came west with the Mormon migration, there were ancestors who came by wagon across the continent to settle in California. One of those ancestors, a great grandmother several times back, came across the plains with only her daughters, because her husband and sons had gone ahead to build a house and start farming, before Sarah and her daughters came to join them. I have always loved hearing about her strength and commitment to her husband and children, and her determination to make a better life. I named my eldest (by three minutes) daughter after Sarah, my pioneer grandmother! My second daughter (by three minutes) is named after my mother, Kathleen, another pioneer in my family!
For this contest, I will make 3 winners a personalized set of 8 cards, using your favorite picture of you, your ancestors, your kids, or any other family. After I announce the winners, I will need a digital copy of your photograph and if you have a color preference, I need to know that too. My goal is to have all the cards out by August 1st, but some of that will depend on how quickly I get the photos!