Note: A version of this article was published in The Times Examiner back in November of 2018. The great thing about true history is that it doesn’t change (if it is true). It may be purposely changed or “revised” or even obliterated by the collectivist churls who now dominate our main stream media and most of the major publishing companies. But we owe it to the people of history—to the heroes and villains of the past—to the noble and ignoble deeds they performed--------- we owe it to all of them to tell the TRUTH about what they did—for good or ill-- in their time under the sun. Their deeds made US what we are today. And that surely includes a greatly (and purposely) misunderstood group of religious separatists we today call Pilgrims, people who are mercilessly attacked in our day by the mentally deficient clods of the MSM and the “woke” social media, as hopeless racists and the cause of all of our problems in modern America!
“…Pilgrim history is a story which has no end. It will end only if people suffer a failure of nerve in the quest for basic human rights. It can honestly be said that ALL who cherish freedom are Pilgrim descendants.” (PILGRIMS THEN AND NOW, by Rev. Gary Marks, Plymouth, Mass –1990)
I’ve stood several times on the top of Cole’s Hill, overlooking the historic harbor at Plymouth, Massachusetts. Below this ancient but now “manicured” hill lies the rock, Plymouth Rock, underneath a beautiful marble canopy. Out in the harbor is the spot where, in the miserable late Fall of November, 1620, about 102 stalwart people, plus crew, arrived in a decrepit 180 ton converted freighter named Mayflower. Cole’s Hill, at that time, was a craggy bluff overlooking a small rocky beach just big enough for a landing party in a small “shallop”. Eventually a group of those men and women would come ashore right below what has been named Cole’s Hill since at least 1697. These weary but determined people would, according to its identification a generation or two later, climb upon a large boulder (now called ‘Plymouth Rock’) as they embarked from their shallop. Those first halting and fearful steps marked the beginning of an “experiment” in self government that, today, their spiritual and political descendants are arguing about over whether or not that “experiment” is worthy of preserving. Most Americans still cling to that experiment and consider it worthy of defending at whatever cost. Unfortunately, a smaller but powerful group of ungrateful, demented collectivist/Marxists/socialists who more-or-less now control that embattled experiment in self government are determined to END what our ancestors gave us.
Inside a beautiful marble sarcophagus on top of Cole’s Hill rests a plain pine box, containing many bones which were undoubtedly from those same brave souls who arrived in that small, 90 foot Mayflower, and who must have first looked upon that unnamed bluff from her deck, possibly in fear, but certainly (for perhaps half of them) in faith that what they were about to embark upon was in God’s directive Will. (Technically this beautiful monument, built in 1920 by The General Society of Mayflower Descendants, is not a “sarcophagus”, which denotes the remains of but one person, but is an Ossuary, since it contains the bones of multiple people.) My wife and I have stood beside this “burial monument” several times as we read the inscriptions thereupon. The bones of one or more of her Pilgrim ancestors may be in that ossuary, and it was always humbling for both of us as we silently thanked them for their sacrifices.
Rev. Gary Marks wrote that, “The Pilgrim story is one of the best known…and, paradoxically, one of the least known stories concerning our American beginnings. Many are familiar with the Mayflower, Plymouth Rock, and the first Thanksgiving. Few know much about the great ideas and personalities which gave rise to and sustained the Pilgrims’ heroic and persistent struggle to realize their dreams of living as a SELF-DETERMINING people.
“…The fame and popularity of major events in our early history ironically stand in the way of an appreciation for the basic impetus which guided their fervent and dogged quest to live FREE from the tyranny of both the King and the established Church of England. Following repeated attempts and profound searchings of soul to ‘purify’ the church from within, (this) small group of stubborn people whom we now know as Pilgrims separated themselves from the Church and effectually, therefore, from their own nation.”
It’s beyond the scope of this article to delve into a detailed history of the sufferings and accomplishments, over the next 70 or so years, of this small band of “Saints”, or Christians, and “Strangers”, or non-believers and/or non-church members. I’ve been asked several times in the past, and I’ve sometimes asked myself, why would these physical and/or spiritual ancestors of ours take such risks for something as nebulous, at that time, as the right to worship as they chose, and/or live in a self-governing society? Why would this small band of spiritual AND also irreverent people risk all they had, and their lives, for concepts that were totally foreign to most of their countrymen? The answer is complex.
One side of this sarcophagus, or monument, lists the names of the 50 or so Pilgrims who perished of disease and cold and starvation during that first brutal winter of 1620/21. On the other side is an inscription that, perhaps, answers that question as to WHY these people did what they did:
“READER! HISTORY RECORDS NO NOBLER VENTURE FOR FAITH AND FREEDOM THAN THIS PILGRIM BAND. IN WEARINESS AND PAINFULNESS, IN WATCHINGS, OFTEN IN HUNGER AND COLD, THEY LAID THE FOUNDATIONS OF A STATE WHEREIN EVERY MAN, THROUGH COUNTLESS AGES, SHOULD HAVE LIBERTY TO WORSHIP GOD IN HIS OWN WAY. MAY THEIR EXAMPLE INSPIRE THEE TO DO THY PART IN PERPETUATING AND SPREADING THE LOFTY IDEALS OF OUR REPUBLIC THROUGHOUT THE WORLD!”
I first read those words in 1955. I didn’t fully appreciate, let alone understand, those words then. But I must confess that the next time I read them, in 1988, tears came to my eyes and I had trouble narrating them for my video camera. They did these things—they suffered and starved and died—for us—for ME, and YOU, and in a broader sense, they did it because about half of them LOVED God and had concluded that “resistance to tyranny is obedience to God”. Well, it still is, even though some Christians today have decided that resistance to the tyranny of our present day is not part of God’s Will, and that His Word teaches that! (Of course, I disagree, but that’s a discussion for another time.)
THE MAYFLOWER COMPACT
While anchored at their first landfall, off what is now Provincetown, Massachusetts at the tip of Cape Cod, the men of this Pilgrim band drew up a “compact”, or agreement on how they would live and interact with each other when their colony was in operation. It reads as follows: “In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James…. Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian
Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, and Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony....”
I contend that these noble words, written in desperation to preserve the civil order between believers and non-believers (which was in danger of disintegrating after the voyage—and is STILL being threatened within our body politic in our day) are among the most important ever written down for the cause of our human liberty. This compact was, in essence, THE FIRST AMERICAN DOCUMENT declaring that civil order and a mutual respect for human rights was to be desired and maintained.
Rev. Gary Marks concluded, in his booklet, “PILGRIMS THEN AND NOW”, that, “The Pilgrims were surely not perfect. The truth is they were fallible people, they had faults and weaknesses, but they gave us a legacy that quite ordinary people, greatly inspired, can make lasting, positive contributions to civilization. In a day when it is in vogue to dwell on the negative aspects of life, it is perhaps appropriate to focus on the positive achievements of men and women who sought to live by dreams of freedom.”
So, readers, I ask you a question based on those noble words on the sarcophagus on Cole’s Hill: WILL YOU DO YOUR PART IN PERPETUATING AND SPREADING (and defending) THE LOFTY IDEALS OF OUR REPUBLIC? If so, you’d best get on with it now, because there are forces among us that seek to deny and repress these “lofty ideals”, passed down the generations to us at an almost unimaginable cost! I wish all of you a “thankful” Thanksgiving!