7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Monday, November 3, 2014

National Monument to the Forefathers

National Monument to the Forefathers, Plymouth, Massachusetts
circa 1889

In September 2012 CQer Elaine Marie Cooper did an interesting post onf the National Monument to the Forefathers located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Since Elaine covered the monument so well previously,  I invite you to read about the Forefather's Monument in her original post. With her permission, I'm supplementing her article with my own experience, two years later, and photographs which I encourage you to enlarge for detail.

Statue with my husband standing in front to
help you grasp the size. Click to enlarge.
Formerly called the Pilgrim's Monument, it had recently been brought to attention by Kirk Cameron in his film Monumental. Like Elaine, I was stunned to learn about this monument, and for me, almost embarrassed as I have lost track of how many times I have visited Plymouth since my childhood. How could I have missed this 81 foot statue honoring the pilgrim forefathers who arrived on the shores of Plymouth in 1620?

Yet, like many I did . . . until recently. When I visited Plymouth at the end of September, I made a point of finding the monument that had eluded me, or I it, for well over 4 decades. So off I went, along with my husband who also had also never been to the monument despite his own similar experience, and I will add that his family has a strong history in Plymouth originating from Governor William Bradford and generations up until present day are buried in its historical Plymouth cemeteries. We wound our way, zig-zagged rather, up narrow streets behind the main thoroughfare of Plymouth until we can upon a large clearing on a mound where the National Monument to the Forefathers stood as a proud sentinel and testament to the "memory of the virtues, the enterprise, and the unparalleled sufferings of their ancestors." And we were in awe.

A poem read at the dedication of this monument on August 1, 1889, written by John Boyle O'Reilly, reads: “This Monument, where Virtue, Courage, Law and Learning sit, Calm Faith, above them, grasping Holy Writ; White hand upraised o’er beauteous trusting eyes, and pleading finger pointing to the skies."

Catherine Millard in The Rewriting of American History describes the monument so well: 

"Towering high in its majestic splendor, the central figure of the monument is Faith. She stands upon a main pedestal, one foot resting upon a replica of Plymouth Rock, and holds an open Bible in her left hand. Her right hand points heavenward. The symbolism is trust in God and His unfailing words, written down for us in the Bible.

"Four smaller, seated figures represent the Christian values and principles promulgated by the Pilgrims themselves. They are Morality, Law, Education and Liberty. Morality holds the Ten Commandments in her left hand nd the scroll of Revelation – the last book of the Bible, in the right. She is flanked by an Old Testament prophet on one side, and the Evangelists on the other. Law is tempered with Justice on the one hand, and Mercy on the other. Education is represented with the Wisdom of maturity on one side and Youth following Experience on the other. Liberty is accompanied by Peace on the one side and the Overthrow of Tyranny on the opposite side."

3 of the 4 reliefs: Education, Morality, Law

The photographs below show two facades from the octagonal base where the names of the pilgrims who arrived in 1620 are inscribed. I can't describe the way it felt to read these names and note the lists held 9 of my ancestors and 14 of my husbands.

Passenger Lists of the Mayflower, 1620
I hope that you will all someday have the opportunity to see this impressive, awe-inspiring, memorial to our Pilgrim ancestors who originated the Mass Bay Colony with such industry and courage. Perhaps you will find some of your own ancestors listed on the monument, if not, realize what they stood for is the heritage Americans all share.


  1. This is great, I saw Kirk's movie on this. I would love to visit the monument someday.

    1. Thanks, Mrs. Tina! You know, it is only a piece of granite, but I was truly struck by what it represents. Very lovely experience seeing it in person.

  2. Carla, thank you so much for expanding on my blog post! I cannot wait to visit the monument one day and view my own ancestors' names written in stone (John Alden and Priscilla Mullins and her parents). This monument is a splendid reminder of the reason our nation was started. It seems befitting our times (sadly) that it lies so hidden for so few to see. The more we reveal the truths written in stone, the more others might be reminded of the beginnings of our great country. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos!

    1. And thank you for your original post so that we could share the sharing about this remarkable tribute to not only the Pilgrim forefathers, but what so many of us take for granted.

  3. Breathtaking!

    We've been reading a lot of in depth stuff about the Pilgrims in our school year, so this is especially timely for me. I've never been to Plymouth, but if ever I make it, I'll make sure finding this monument is on my list of things to do!

    1. Plymouth is a least a once in a lifetime must and there are so many neat things to do. It is kind of fun finding the monument since the town is so ancient you have to wind around past many historic homes.


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