May 7, 1997
Location: Kearney - 810 miles left, Nebraska - Location: 40:41:58N 99:04:52W Elevation: 2150 feet
Summary: Gibbon to Kearney. The Mormon pioneers migrated West seeking religious freedom and safety. Personal reason for the trek.
Journal entry: It's hard to believe that I am back to the town where I sat on the lawn at the park with my sister and ate lunch. We were on our way to Omaha. Now almost 3 weeks later I'm back. We're coming, Kathleen. Slowly, but surely. We were told that it would take about 3 weeks to separate the men from the boys. The girls from the women.
As I look around at our group of walkers, we have become very close. You never want for anything if you can get it at all. Someone always comes to your aid. We help each other and encourage. Encouragement is so necessary.
We always have a lot of media around and when someone makes the newspaper it is a lot of fun. You know, the kidding and stuff. Usually they are showing someone's blistered feet with your face in the background. Just a really cute shot to show your friends back home!
I was interviewed the other day by one of the newspapers. (Didn't get in again). But for asking so many questions about the Mormons and our reasons for doing this, I was quite surprised she knew so little about [early Mormon] history. For you need to know Mormon history to understand why we are here. I was telling her about my ancestors leaving Nauvoo when the Saints were forced to leave and living in Iowa. She said,"How do you spell Nauvoo?" I then realized she had no clue about us or our reasons or our ancestors. That is why we are here. They had a belief that was so strong they endured persecutions, constant moving, famine, struggles and death.
Someone the other day said that their great grandfather was the rebellious one of the family when he joined the [Mormon] church. So what! It is the wonderers and the questioners who have the strength to question and search for something better that changes and improves the world.
I am a product of the 60s...a baby boomer and I think the 60s improved the world. I cheer change when good comes from it.
I cheer because we have the freedom to question and change what is not right.
[...] The church grew from a tiny seed. By the year 1846, the number of members had grown tremendously. But they were homeless and scattered throughout Iowa and many mid-western states. Joseph Smith [the original leader] had been martyred along with his brother, Hyrum. The church was under the direction of Brigham Young. Preparations were made to move West. It was a movement of beliefs, of convictions.
And in the process, the West was opened. The Saints found a place they could live and worship without persecution. My ancestors were a part of that movement. Nearly all of my great great grandparents moved to Utah with the early Saints and settled new areas of Utah and Idaho. [...] If they were the questioners and rebels of days gone by, hurrah for them. I am the fortunate recipient of their struggles. How blessed I am.
So you see, my dear reporter, I am not doing this as a whimsical after-thought. It is not a show for the papers and TV cameras. This is not a media blitz--just for the fun of it. It is a reverent memorial to those people.