All these years later, Mormons are still proud of their rescue stories. Theatrical reenactments, complete with music and costume, pay homage. Youth participating in coming-of-age treks are encouraged to draw upon the strength of the Mormon pioneer.
Daniel Wood mattered to those who planned his memorial, built a monument, and continued the cemetery’s upkeep. As someone who appreciates history, I was giddy with excitement over the details of Daniel’s funeral, including the details such as the lilac-colored lettering on the banner draping his casket. It made it easy to imagine myself there among my people.
Five men in Brown’s small army were black, a fact I never learned in school. Who were these black men, the white-centered telling of history left out, and why did they cross the bridge at Harpers Ferry that fateful night?
If teachers taught us of their bravery and sacrifice, we would know courage is not skin color. And that whiteness is not what makes us American.
In this space, Mormons benefited from the power of the collective. Together they strengthened bonds, experienced joy, and shared knowledge. For those too young to remember the violence and ostracism earlier pioneers faced, I wonder if they took this space for granted.
I was thrilled my bloodline included a man willing to swear and stand against religion and a corporation because his moral compass told him it was the just and right thing to do.
Why didn’t he use this same fury to fight against slavery, especially when Utah voted to make owning human beings legal within its territory? He did not call his neighbors for meetings to discuss the horrific treatment of native tribes and the stealing of their land. Nor did he create petitions asking to eradicate the ban on blackness which the church wickedly perpetuated.