SALT LAKE CITY -- It's common across the United States for communities to enjoy formal holidays created to recognize something special in their history. This weekend, Utah celebrates the arrival of the early settlers to the Salt Lake Valley.
As far as state holidays are concerned, Pioneer Day is unique, and in many ways, more relevant as time goes on.
Many states have not set aside any particular dates for official state holidays. Others have found a variety of reasons to pause and celebrate.
Our neighbor to the east has Nevada Day, recognizing the day the state was admitted to the union. Some state holidays are centered on significant war-time events. Vermont takes time off to recognize a Revolutionary War battle; Texans celebrate the battle that led to territorial independence from Mexico.
Some states recognize people of historic importance. Missouri's state holiday is Harry Truman Day. Nine states in the South have established holidays honoring soldiers of the Confederacy who died in the Civil War.
But no state other than Utah recognizes what is virtually the exact moment of its settlement, a moment that marked the end of an arduous trek, and the beginning of an ambitious undertaking.
It was hard-scrabble, alkaline desert the settlers tamed, bringing water from the canyons and plotting out a grid of orderly streets and public spaces. Every July, we celebrate not only what was begun 16-plus decades ago, but what it has brought.
This "Place" has become a vibrant metropolis widely- regarded in many categories as an attractive place to live. Like all communities, we face difficult challenges related to our growth, environment and future well-being of our citizenry.
But we have inherited a legacy of hard work and optimism that has demonstrated that such challenges are indeed manageable - and that is a heritage all Utahns should be proud to celebrate.