President Trump celebrates Mormon settlers on Pioneer Day

President Donald Trump arrives at Kansas City International Airport to attend the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Tuesday, July 24, 2018, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Washington • President Donald Trump offered his “best wishes” to Utahns celebrating Pioneer Day on Tuesday, extolling the Mormons who escaped persecution to take on a challenging and dangerous trek to find a new home.

“Our nation honors the ingenuity, industry, and unwavering commitment to faith of all those who endured frontier hardships,” the White House said Tuesday. “These pioneers worked tirelessly to transform the arid desert landscape into a blossoming new home where their families could live in peace and prosperity. The legacy they helped build across the American West lives on through hundreds of cities and towns that continue to thrive in the 21st century.”

Trump said he and first lady Melania wished their best to everyone celebrating Pioneer Day, a state holiday in Utah marking the Mormon settlers arrival in the Salt Lake Valley.

“On this day in 1847, Brigham Young and the first group of Latter-day Saint pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley to begin building a new home for their families,” Trump said. “Fleeing persecution, these families undertook a difficult journey spanning more than a thousand miles from Illinois to the Utah territory. In the years that followed, nearly 70,000 men, women, and children charted similar paths across windswept plains and rugged mountains in search of religious freedom and a better way of life.”

Trump said Tuesday that Americans remember the “extraordinary pioneers who uprooted their lives and undertook an incredible leap of faith into the unknown.

“Their stories and accomplishments are lasting reminders of the importance of religious freedom and the enduring strength and spirit of the American people,” Trump continued.