Remembering the first Thanksgiving

Posted on 14 November 2019 by LeslieM

In this day, in which efforts are being made to rewrite history, the real meaning of Thanksgiving is fading quickly. For many, Thanksgiving correlates with nothing more than a day off work, downing a turkey and watching football. For that reason, I want to start with a brief history of Thanksgiving.

In September 1620, the Mayflower left England, carrying 102 passengers seeking a new home where the Pilgrims could freely practice their faith and find opportunities for prosperity. The difficult journey eventually took them to Plymouth, where winter and disease were so brutal that only half of the original passengers and crew survived.

The Native Americans taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate corn, to extract sap, and to fish. In November 1621, the Pilgrims organized a feast to celebrate their successful harvest and invited their Indian friends to enjoy a meal of celebration with them. This feast is remembered as the “First Thanksgiving.” On Oct. 3, 1863, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving to be celebrated each November.

Too many want to act like this event never happened, but a little known national monument, located in Plymouth, Massachusetts, pays a great tribute to our Forefathers, those first English settlers who landed at Plymouth. The 81 ft. tall solid-granite monument is located in state park at 72 Allerton St. in Plymouth, MA. The cornerstone was laid in 1859 and the monument was completed in 1889. The monument was originally planned to be approx. 150 ft. tall, but was reduced during the Civil War due to lack of funding.

The placard on the northeast side of the monument reads, “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 sculptures on the monument represent the virtues that the Pilgrims brought with them when they arrived in 1620. The largest and tallest sculpture is Faith. Other figures include Morality represented by a woman holding a tablet symbolic of the Ten Commandments which reads, “I am the Lord thy God…” Seen in Morality’s throne are references to Prophecy and Evangelism.

On the west side are figures representing Law, Justice and Mercy. On the south side is Education flanked by Wisdom and Youth. On the east side is Liberty flanked by Peace. Along with these figures, the monument also includes smaller sculptures telling the story of the Pilgrims’ leaving England, landing at Plymouth and interacting with Native Americans. The Pilgrims are also honored with a monument in Provincetown, MA that was completed in 1910.

There is no question regarding the Christian faith that the Pilgrims brought with them. Their quest was to find a place where they could worship God freely. In a day when people are rewriting history, let us pause to remember the Pilgrims who risked their lives to pursue religious freedom. Let’s pause to remember their sacrifices, which laid the groundwork for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Sure, eat the turkey, enjoy the family and watch some football this Thanksgiving; but also take time to count your blessings and to thank God for faith, family, friends and freedom!

Dr. Gary A. Colboch is Senior Pastor at Grace Church located at 501 NE 48 St. in Pompano Beach. For more information, call 954-421-0190 or pastor@gbcfl.org.

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