Monday, November 2, 2009
Can't we just send them some maps???
When word reached Salt Lake that the companies were lost out on the plains, Brigham Young called for a massive rescue effort. On October 7, the first rescue party left Salt Lake City with 16 wagonloads of food and supplies. More rescue parties followed. Even with a rescue effort, more than 210 of the 980 handcart pioneers died along the way. Many of the survivors had to have limbs, fingers and toes amputated due to the frostbite.
In Mormon culture, the story of the Martin and Willey handcart companies is nothing short of legendary. Kids are told about the bravery of the rescuers their whole lives, particularly the story of the young men who carried the pioneers across the icy Sweetwater River. A slightly lesser-known aspect to the story, but no less important, is that after the emigrants finally made it to Salt Lake, those who had already settled in the valley took them in and cared for them for months.
This was no minor act of charity. This was about hundreds of people who had ALREADY risked their lives crossing the plains once doing it again, under the worst possible conditions. This was about people who were already just barely eking out an existence opening their homes to strangers.
You know what none of those rescuers said?
They got themselves into this mess, and now they have to live with the consequences.
I worked hard to get across the plains, and helping them will be giving them a free ride.
And my personal fave: If we go rescue them, they'll never learn to cross the plains themselves.