The expulsion of the Mormons from Illinois represents the only time in American history where U.S. citizens were forced to leave the country because of their religion. Their entry into this valley in 1847 is commemorated by the celebration of Pioneer Day on July 24.
The fact that Pioneer Day is a state holiday should not cause others to ignore or shun it because of their perception that it is "only about Mormons." Pioneer Day is not just about Mormons, but about religious freedom for all Americans. That freedom is also partly celebrated on Independence Day, July 4. The early state legislators recognized the sacrifices made by people of all faiths for religious freedom and chose to set this day aside as a state holiday beneficial to all Utahns.
Mormons and non-Mormons alike should recognize these pioneer men and women as those who had the courage to live and fight for their beliefs. They should and ask their employers to grant them the right to honor this day and give it the respect it deserves.
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.