November 11, 2021 we all paused our busy lives to take a moment for gratitude. It was Veterans Day. But November 11th commemorates another important event in our country’s history. On that date in 1620 the Mayflower landed on the shores at Cape Cod near Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Gratitude was the first order of business. Having arrived, William Bradford said they “fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean.”1 The timing of this was certainly Providential.
A few hundred miles to the south in 1619 the Jamestown settlement was introducing African slavery on a larger scale into North America. There could not have been a bigger contrast for a heritage of freedom and equality. One that would be built on faith and covenant while the other settlement was introducing servitude and bondage. The Pilgrim’s “Mayflower Compact” set a high bar of Christian duty to serve God and each other with a solemn covenant on November 11, 1620.
As I read The Pilgrim Hypothesis by Timothy Ballard last year, I learned about a monument I never knew existed; an eighty-one-foot granite statue dedicated in 1889 called “The Monument to the Forefathers.” In the middle of the pedestal at the top is a figure representing Faith with her right hand pointing to heaven and in her left hand the Bible. Seated below her are four statues called Freedom, Morality, Law and Education. Virtues on which a nation could be built.
How could you ever have freedom absent education, morality and law to support it? The monument has four panels to the side of each with the following words inscribed: “National Monument to the Forefathers. Erected by a grateful people in remembrance of their labors, sacrifices and sufferings for the cause of civil and religious liberty.” The middle panels contain the names of those who came over on the Mayflower.
The rear panel a quote from William Bradford.
“Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are; and, as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of Jehovah have all praise.” —William Bradford
I am just dying to go to Plymouth and see this stately reminder of how much we owe to so few (102 passengers) for their sacrifice for freedom and religious liberty.
The Mothers of the Mayflower
I was also taken back in awe as I read of yet another monument to Mayflower mothers.
In The Pilgrim Hypothesis, Tim Ballard writes,
“During their first winter in America, half of the recently landed Pilgrims died. But the Mayflower mothers were hit the hardest. They were the first to go without food. The first to go without shelter. They, more than any of the others, took what little they had and gave it to their children. They sacrificed for the survival of the next generations. They died for us. During that first winter, about three-quarters of the women died.Not far from the Plymouth shoreline today, there stands the Monument to the Pilgrim Mothers. It reads, “They brought up their families in sturdy virtue and living faith in God without which nations perish.”2
In spite of the difficulty of the winter conditions they were providentially blessed with indigenous friends like Samoset, Squanto and Chief Massasoit who could have probably destroyed them with one order. Historian Rod Gragg asked, “Why did Massasoit not order a massacre of the Pilgrims and wipe out the weak, struggling colony in its infancy? Why was Plymouth spared the repeated attacks and bloodshed that marked the early history of Virginia’s Jamestown Colony? Again, to William Bradford, it was all an act of divine grace, in which the powerful hand of the Lord did protect them. According to another historian, ‘Massasoit was a remarkable example of God’s providential care for the Pilgrims. He was probably the only chief on the northeast coast of America who would have welcomed Europeans as friends.’”3
Would you like to visit this monument? Why wait! You can do it virtually with your family by going to thepilgrimhypothesis.com where you can watch several videos about the Pilgrims and be instructed by expert historians and guides.
As my heart filled with appreciation for our veterans last week my thoughts also turned to the National Monument to the Forefathers and Mayflower mothers. I pondered on the virtues of education, morality, and law as citizens of a free republic.
It is sobering and gratifying to reflect on how many have given so much for faith, family, and freedom.
1Ballard, 2020, p.113. The Pilgrim Hypothesis. Covenant Communications. 2Ibid., p. 124 3Ibid., p. 124