Counterparts: Our Pioneer Heritage (Poetry)

Jul 24, 2010 by

Pioneer Day is celebrated by Mormons the world over on July 24th of each year. This day is a time for reverence, remembrance, and recreation; it is marked by programs, picnics, treks, tributes, games, and storytelling. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we proudly honor and deeply respect our pioneer heritage. Whether our connection to those early men and women is genealogical or spiritual in nature, we are strengthened by the memory of those sturdy souls who loved the gospel of Jesus Christ more than life itself. Their lives and dedication inspire and uplift us.

Leaders of our church often remind us that we, too, are pioneers. The road we travel is different, and the physical dangers are greatly reduced, but the spiritual dangers we face are just as real. While our limbs and bodies are not likely to be frozen by ice and snow or bloodied by rocky trails, hearts can be frozen by worldly concerns and pleasures, spirits bloodied by sin and cynicism. Each one of us has his or her own treacherous journey to make––a search for Zion that is fraught with the perils of this time, reserved for us, another generation of Saints.

I sincerely believe that we, like the early pioneers, are made of the right stuff. As one Church historian wrote:  “Cut us open, and there is the trail.” United by shared belief, may we continue to follow that trail and be willing to share it with others.

I wrote this poem for a pioneer program over fifteen years ago. For me, it still rings true today.


©1984 by Susan Noyes Anderson

Great Grandma walked across the plains,
her blue dress grey with travel stains.
She bore the hardship, for she knew
her faith in the Lord would see her through.
Her once pink hands were calloused now,
and she had said good-bye somehow
to husband dear and children lost,
praying the end would be worth the cost.

I walk the darkened city street,
my hurried footsteps keeping beat
with a trembling heart, but I swallow my fear,
reminding myself that the Lord is near.
I wear my travel stains deep inside,
where I battle iniquity’s rising tide,
praying husband and children will not be lost;
and that the end will be worth the cost.

We all must walk these earthly miles;
different times bring different trials.


  1. Stephanie

    Great poem!

  2. What a blessing it is to find this poem this morning! We homeschool and are working on Idaho history with my 9 yr old daughter. We live in Idaho, but we are going to UT next weekend to remember that without the pioneers we wouldn’t have the blessings of the Church here in Idaho. This poem will be a wonderful addition to our lessons this week.


  3. Laura Lake

    I would like to print your “Counterparts” poem on the cover of our Ward Sacrament Meeting Bulletin. Our Young Men and Young Women have just returned from a 4 day reinactment of the Martin and Willie Handcart Company at Martins Cove Wyoming. The leaders of the young people stressed how the trials that today’s church youth face may be different from those of the church members of the past, but the youth still have trials to face and that they are pioneers, too. I would like your permission to use your poem. I will, of couse, be sure to include your name as the author. Please let me know what you think.

  4. Ginny Benson

    Hello….what a wonderful message. I would like to ask permission to use this poem in our yearly booket that we give to our Daughters of Utah Pioneers Company in the Seattle, Washington area. This would entail appox. 100 booklets. We would of course, include your name as the author and I suspect everyone will want to visit your website. Thanks for sharing your talent and heartfelt messages. Thanks…

    Daughters of Utah Pioneer
    Puget Sound North Company

  5. Sue

    I’m not sure how to get in touch with you, Ginny, but feel free to use the poem, the only caveat being that you include the copyright information as listed here.

    Thanks for your interest in my poetry. You can find 200 others on my poetry website at

  6. Suzy Valle

    This is such a sweet poem. I was looking for something like this to share at our RS anniversary dinner commemorating the pioneer women and appreciating their sacrifice and faith. Thank you.

  7. Wow, from the moment I saw the title I knew this would be a wonderful poem.

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