July 24 – Arrival Day: Journey’s not over until you get there; we are not there yet


There’s a lot of encore material here — I think about this in the middle of the summer, and July 24 is a good day to commemorate arrivals: It’s Arrival Day. It’s Touchdown Day.

July 24 – almost the end of the month, but not quite.

  • July 24, 1847: A larger contingent of Mormons, refugees from a literal religious war in Illinois and Missouri, entered into the Salt Lake Valley under the leadership of Brigham Young, who famously said from his wagon sick-bed, “This is the place; drive on!”

In Utah, July 24 is a state holiday, to celebrate the date in 1847 that the Mormon refugees arrived in Salt Lake Valley and began to set up their agriculture and schools.  In Salt Lake City, bands from across the state and floats from many entities form the Days of ’47 Parade.  When I marched with the Pleasant Grove High School Viking Band, the route was  5 miles.  We had only one band uniform, for winter — I lost nearly 10 pounds carrying a Sousaphone.

When the Mormons got to Salt Lake, after a couple of months’ trekking across the plains (then known as “The Great American Desert,” the Great Basin and the Mojave being little known), and after being on the run for well over a year, they got right down to priorities.  Summer was nearly gone, and crops had to be planted quick.  Within a couple of weeks, the Mormons dammed local streams to create irrigation systems to grow what they could before fall (this is, popularly, the first major crop irrigation set up in America); they’d started to lay out plans for settlements, with straight streets based on Cartesian-plane grids:  The first serious community planning?  And they began construction of schools, knowing education to be one of the most important attributes in the foundation of free societies, a position Mormons have reneged on recently in Utah.  Water, communities, schools.

Heck, that’s a good campaign platform today. It’s with sadness I note few people run on such a platform, instead begging voters to be afraid of others who are different in some fashion. Fear quenches no thirst, makes no place for families, nor educates any curious child. Utah’s Mormon pioneers were on the right track. We’ve run out of the ruts, and we are not there yet.

Utahns will be flying their U.S. flags today.  (Remember, President Obama proclaimed this a period of mourning, through July 25; flags should fly half-staff where possible.)

Maybe spending a few weeks struggling across a prairie and risking your life focuses you on the important stuff.  How would it improve America if we put more people on a bus to Omaha, put them out there, and said, “Hike to Salt Lake City from here.”

They’d focus.  Can we start with Paul Ryan, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell? Ted Cruz couldn’t make the journey. Donald Trump would die of sunburn. Wisconsin Gov. Ahab Walker would find no one to swindle, and talking down teachers and community builders wouldn’t be popular among fellow trekkers.

Ah, the good old days!

July 24 features a number 0f other arrivals, too.

From various “Today in History” features, AP, New York Times, and others, not in chronological order:

Buzz Aldrin walks on the moon, July 20, 1969

Buzz Aldrin walks on the moon, July 20, 1969 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • July 24, 1969: Apollo 11 returned to the Earth, and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong — Aldrin and Armstrong having landed on the Moon.  In our celebrations of Apollo 11, and in our remembrances of President Kennedy, we may forget, though young kids rarely miss it, that Kennedy didn’t just say ‘Let’s put a guy on the Moon by 1970.’  Getting back safely was a key part of the challenge.

    First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.

    On July 24, 1969, the crew of Apollo 11 returned, safely.

Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and organ

Would there be a Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and organ, had the Mormons settled somewhere other than Utah? Wikipedia photo

  • July 24, 1866: Tennessee became the first of the Confederate States, the former “state in rebellion,” to be readmitted fully to the Union, following the end of the American Civil War. (Does Tennessee celebrate this anniversary in any way?)
  • July 24, 1911:  On July 24, 1911, American archeologist Hiram Bingham arrived at Machu Picchu in Peru.  We still don’t know all the reaons the Incas built that city on the top of very high mountains.  Cell service was not a factor.
  • July 24, 2005: Lance Armstrong won his seventh consecutive Tour de France bicycle race. Little did we know then, the journey wasn’t over. (Lance Armstrong is no relation to Neil Armstrong.  Did I need to point that out?)
English: Cropped image of Richard Nixon and Ni...

Nixon advance man William Safire claimed later than he’d set up the famous “debate” between Eisenhower’s Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Communist Party Premier Nikita Khrushchev, at the American National Exhibition in Moscow, 1959. Nixon argued that the technology on display made better the lives of average Americans, not just the wealthiest. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • July 24, 1959: Visiting Moscow, USSR, to support an exhibit of U.S. technology and know-how, Vice President Richard Nixon engaged Soviet Communist Party Secretary and Premier Nikita Khrushchev in a volley of points about which nation was doing better, at a display of the “typical” American kitchen, featuring an electric stove, a refrigerator, and a dishwasher.  Khrushchev said the Soviet Union produced similar products; Nixon barbed  back that even Communist Party leaders didn’t have such things in their homes, typically, but such appliances were within the reach of every American family.  It was the “Kitchen Debate.”Try explaining this to high school U.S. history students.  The textbooks tend to avoid this story, because it stops the class.  That’s a sign it should be used more, I think.  Does the Common Core even touch it?Nixon’s arrival as a major political force in the Cold War grew clear from this event.  The pragmatic stakes of the Cold War were drawn in stark contrast, too.  It’s interesting to ponder that microwave ovens were not part of the exhibit.

Cover of Time Magazine, July 22, 1974, explaining the showdown between President Richard Nixon and the Special Prosecutor, playing out in the U.S. Supreme Court. Image copyright by Time Magazine.

  • July 24, 1974: In U.S. vs. Nixon, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that President Richard Nixon had to turn over previously-secret recordings made of conversations in the White House between Nixon and his aides, to the special prosecutor appointed to investigate the Watergate affair and cover-up.  Nixon would resign the presidency within two weeks, the only president to leave office by resignation.
  • July 24, 1975: An Apollo spacecraft splashed down after a mission that included the first link-up of American and Soviet spacecraft.  (The Apollo mission was not officially numbered, but is sometimes called “Apollo 18″ — after Apollo 17, the last trip to the Moon.)

More:

Salt Lake City, Utah, L. Hollard, photographer, 1912. Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991

Library of Congress image caption: Mormon Temple Grounds, Salt Lake City, Utah, L. Hollard, photographer, 1912. Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991 [The building on the far right? That’s the old Hotel Utah, where Kathryn and I had a great wedding reception with plenty of champagne considering our many Mormon family and friends — some of whom may have sampled a little to see what they usually missed. It was such a great reception that the owners of the hotel, the LDS Church, stopped holding wedding receptions there and shortly closed it as a hotel; now it’s an office building with a fantastic lobby that makes any sensible person wistful for what used to be.]

Hoping not to arrive painfully on touchdown:

Ogden, Utah, Pioneer Days Rodeo Friday, July 19, 2013.  Photo by Brian Nicholson

Bareback rider Jerad Schlegel of Burns, Colorado, clings to his horse as it falls to the dirt during a re-ride at the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo Friday, July 19, 2013. Photo by Brian Nicholson (go see his blog)

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

 

2 Responses to July 24 – Arrival Day: Journey’s not over until you get there; we are not there yet

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    I always like the full quote: “This is the place; drive on!”

    It always struck me as odd that Brigham Young would give the Eureka! cry, but then move on.

    It’s a geographical conundrum. Scouts picked the route down what is now Emigration Canyon. At the mouth of the Canyon, the wagon train stopped. Brigham Young had been deathly ill; they wanted him to see the valley they’d picked, and get some sort of affirmation that they’d done okay. So Young was summoned, or lifted up (depending on the source) so he could see the valley.

    And he exclaimed, pointing to the valley below, “This is the place!” But then they had to continue to a flatter site, by a stream (already picked out) — so, “drive on.”

    Thanks for the note.

    Like

  2. Porlock Junior says:

    An impressive list of anniversaries. Including two major Nixon Days!

    But the Arrival Day part was especially interesting. I’m sure that, living a couple of states to the west of Salt Lake, I never heard of that. It’s good to be reminded of Salt Lake’s very impressive bit of history, about which one normally hears anything but “This is the place!” generally stripped of meaningful context.

    Nice three-word slogan, too, but probably to dangerous just now, starting with Water; could provoke riots if El Nino doesn’t save us, and soon enough.

    Like

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