Usually, events at the Dee Events Center feature athletes and blaring rock music. However, this on July 12, church hymns and prophetic council was heard in the basketball arena.
The Pioneer Days devotional has become a yearly event to honor the entry of the first pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley. Each year, the devotional features a speaker from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint’s general authorities, and this year, it featured Elder D. Todd Christofferson. Christofferson’s and the other speakers spoke about the importance of pioneer ancestry and patriotism.
Bailey Hamblin is a “junior, seniorish” student at Weber State studying public relations and advertising. Hamblin said that she’s attended the event for three years and plans to continue attending in the future. She also said that while this event isn’t directly religious, she enjoys the spirit that she feels when celebrating pioneers.
“I love the spirit that is felt here,” Hamblin said. “Not only because the gospel of Jesus Christ is shared here, but the spirit that is felt in the history of the pioneers.”
Hamblin said she also really enjoys seeing the community come together and celebrate pioneer ancestors with events like this devotional and the Lindquist Pops Concert and Fireworks show.
Heather Pluim, a 2011 graduate of WSU, is a member of the LDS Institute Summer Choir which participated in the devotional. Pluim finds this a great, nonreligious event for people of all walks of the life to enjoy.
“They don’t focus on overly religious things,” Pluim said. “It’s a lot about the pioneers and everyone can relate to that because a lot of people have pioneer ancestors even if they aren’t members of the church. They often talk about not only pioneers in the past but also modern pioneers and the things that we’re doing well.”
Mona A. Ellis of Ogden said that she comes to listen to the speaker because she can get up close and personal with a “prophet of God” at the Dee Events Center.
Ellis said that she’s been coming to this event for as many years as it’s been going on, which has been so many that she can’t remember them all. While the event is not directly religious, Ellis said she feels it’s good to hear from a religious leader and remember pioneer ancestors.
“[The speakers] have something to give us. It may have no connection to us personally, but they can help us at being better,” Ellis said. “They might not say that kind of thing in their talks, but they might say something that will catch you right smack in the heart.”
Ellis noted how important she believes it is to honor not only pioneer ancestors but also individuals like the pilgrims and Founding Fathers because, just as Utah pioneers settled and tamed Utah, the pilgrims and Founding Fathers also worked to establish this country for us.
“When they came here, there was nothing. To me, this is something that we should honor, the people who not only came here and settled but are founders of this land,” Ellis said. “We should honor these people, and that’s what we’re doing.”