r What is a pioneer? I never had any family members who blazed trails to the West, so I assumed there were no pioneers in my family until I read the definition of pioneer: “To be one of the first settlers in an area; to open up an area or prepare a way; to innovate or introduce something new to an environment or culture; to take the lead or initiative in; to participate in the development of.” Suddenly I had all sorts of pioneers in my family!rMy father was a pioneer as he left his beloved home, joined the Army and traveled the world. My mother defied societal dictates when she married a man not of her culture and then moved thousands of miles away from her family and country to start a new life. I was a pioneer in that I converted to a new religion and was the first one in my family to graduate from college. Each one of my children were pioneers as they served missions in third world countries and helped to introduce the gospel to the people they had learned to love.rMy aunts were some of America’s female workforce during World War II as they learned to be pilots as well as run the farms and build the ships and airplanes needed for the war effort – occupations that weren’t open to women before then.rOne of my great aunts was beaten and jailed during the fight for women’s right to vote. My second great-granduncle freed and educated his slaves in a time and place where this action could have cost him his life. Many of my family were left bereft and in poverty after the Civil War was fought on their land and their homes and livelihoods were destroyed. They picked themselves up and, without government aid, rebuilt their lives in a difficult and confusing world.rAs you research your family, note their occupations and their places of birth. Learn of the history and circumstances under which they lived. Even though they may never have crossed the plains, or even left their neighborhood, in many ways they could have been pioneers. Maybe they were the first one to use a threshing machine or drive a car. They may have been the only ones in the family to complete all levels of education available at the time. Love and honor the pioneers in your family; they shaped you into what you are today.