Are dif­fer­ent kinds of pioneers in all our fam­i­liesBy

Serve Daily - - BUILDING COMMUNITY - Ginny Ack­er­son­What

is a pi­o­neer? I never had any fam­ily mem­bers who blazed trails to the West, so I as­sumed there were no pioneers in my fam­ily un­til I read the def­i­ni­tion of pi­o­neer: “To be one of the first set­tlers in an area; to open up an area or pre­pare a way; to in­no­vate or in­tro­duce some­thing new to an en­vi­ron­ment or cul- ture; to take the lead or ini­tia­tive in; to par- tic­i­pate in the de­vel­op­ment of.” Sud­denly I had all sorts of pioneers in my fam­ily!

My fa­ther was a pi­o­neer as he left his beloved home, joined the Army and trav- eled the world. My mother de­fied so­ci­etal dic­tates when she mar­ried a man not of her cul­ture and then moved thou­sands of miles away from her fam­ily and coun­try to start a new life. I was a pi­o­neer in that I con­verted to a new re­li­gion and was the first one in my fam­ily to grad­u­ate from col­lege. Each one of my chil­dren were pioneers as they served mis­sions in third world coun­tries and helped to in­tro­duce the gospel to the peo­ple they had learned to love.

My aunts were some of Amer­ica’s fe- male work­force dur­ing World War II as they learned to be pi­lots as well as run the farms and build the ships and air­planes needed for the war ef­fort - oc­cu­pa­tions that weren’t open to women be­fore then.

One of my great aunts was beaten and jailed dur­ing the fight for women’s right to vote. My sec­ond great-grand­uncle freed and ed­u­cated his slaves in a time and place where this ac­tion could have cost him his life. Many of my fam­ily were left be- reft and in poverty af­ter the Civil War was fought on their land and their homes and liveli­hoods were de­stroyed. They picked them- selves up and, with- out gov­ern­ment aid, re­built their lives in a dif­fi­cult and con­fus­ing world.

As you re­search your fam­ily, note their oc­cu­pa­tions and their places of birth. Learn of the his­tory and cir­cum­stanc- es un­der which they lived. Even though they may never have crossed the plains, or even left their neigh­bor­hood, in many ways they could have been pioneers. May- be they were the first one to use a thresh- ing machine or drive a car. They may have been the only ones in the fam­ily to com­plete all levels of ed­u­ca­tion avail­able at the time. Love and honor the pioneers in your fam­ily; they shaped you into what you are to­day.

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