As We Move Forward: Pioneers


We all find the idea of being a pioneer exciting. The idea of being the first to explore a new place or try a new idea has a certain fascination. History is filled with stories of people who left their homes for all kinds of reasons and all sorts of hopes and dreams and went to new and different places.

The study of history is largely a study of pioneers. People who left one place and made a new life and a new start in another. Sometimes the motivation was seeking new trade routes. Sometimes it was seeking precious metals like gold. There are numerous accounts in our history of people who sacrificed comfort and home to seek wealth in new places. One thing these stories have in common is how often being a pioneer involved incredible hardship.

I love visiting Colonial Williamsburg. I have developed incredible respect for the people who pioneered the experiment in freedom and democracy that has become the United States of America. While I would like to believe I would have the courage they demonstrated in risking their lives and their finances to make this country into a reality. Hindsight is an incredible gift in seeing the role of pioneers. Uncertainty and frustration were undoubtedly far more common among those early pioneers than the pride we experience when we celebrate what their sacrifice made possible.

That’s one of the things about pioneers. Going into their experience, things often look bleak and even hopeless. The people who settled the expanding territory that became the United States did not know what was ahead of them. They knew what they were leaving behind, but the hardship and uncertainty they faced was not the romantic scenarios we like to remember.

There have been statesmen pioneers as well. Many believe Abraham Lincoln may have been the greatest US President. He took over a country on the brink of division and brought it back together. As a major part of that process he led enslaved people to freedom. There were many pioneers in that period and in the course of our country so far. Times of great uncertainty and need call forth the pioneer spirit in some people.

Like pioneers in exploration and expansion, pioneers in science and technology often faced great challenges. Medical breakthroughs came in the midst of sickness, suffering and death. I enjoyed reading about the lives of great inventors when I was growing up. Thomas Edison is someone I have always admired. His invention of the incandescent light bulb transformed nighttime from a world of darkness to light.


Who are the pioneers in our present time of darkness, doubt and uncertainty? What journey, discoveries and explorations will our modern pioneers accomplish? What hardships will they face? What will things look after they have settled this new frontier?

As we move forward, it might be useful to recognize we are at a time that is made for pioneering. The darkness, despair and fear that seems to be everywhere cries out for people with the pioneering spirit. Are you one of the pioneers who will triumph over this time of uncertainty? What is your role in this terrifying, exciting challenging time? What will history say about your role in this time of pioneering? Write your answer with hope, as did the pioneers who came before you.

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