You would not even know it is there if you were not intentionally searching for it. Concealed in a residential neighborhood on a windswept hill overlooking the bay in Plymouth, Massachusetts, like a silent sentinel, sits a national treasure unfamiliar to most. The National Monument to our Forefathers, commissioned by the Pilgrim Society, was dedicated in 1889, less than four years after the Statue of Liberty. But, unlike Lady Liberty, few Americans have ever heard of it. Fewer still have seen it.
So what? Why do we need to remember? Because we easily forget very important things—like truth. We are very forgetful, frail and fickle creatures who often suffer from collective historical amnesia and reality-blinding pride in our transient triumphs, giving no thanks or glory to our Creator for the gift of America and its unprecedented freedom. We take God’s faithfulness and goodness to us for granted. That is why, after miraculously delivering them across the Jordan River, God instructed the Israelites to stack twelve stones near Gilgal to help them in later remembering what God had done for them there on that day in history. “In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:8). Today, violently tossed about on the dark seas of a quite insane post-truth culture, we need memorials and guideposts more than ever.
Truth, like the North Star on an inky night, is objective, transcendent and eternal. As British Jurist Sir William Blackstone acknowledged, truth, as are God’s laws, is “fixed, uniform, and universal.” Yet, like passive prisoners of our radically relativistic era of moral anarchy, our casual relationship with objective reality is wrecked—smashed against the rock of the almighty Self and the wasted worship of our transient feelings.
By our silly self-deception, believing that we have somehow killed God and truth, we foolishly believe that we can create and affirm our own alternate reality, subjectively defy moral gravity, and somehow soar to unprecedented utopian heights of “new” human-centric “ethics” and faux-morality. But, in losing a firm grip on truth, we have lately de-evolved to a point of now quite literally losing our minds—going insane and stupidly shouting in God’s face that evil is “good” and good is “evil.” We swoon to satanic sirens’ songs full of lies. We were solemnly warned not to foolishly confuse liberty with license, but we stubbornly refused to listen. Still, we will break ourselves on the rock of truth every time.
And still yet, in spite of our raging lunacy, truth does not change—it does not move. Presciently, our forbearers understood our powerful proclivity to do what is right in our own eyes and substitute our “great” subjective ideas and emotions for objective truth. That is why they erected a beacon of remembrance, hewn from 150 tons of pure granite, by the descendants of the courageous Mayflower Pilgrims more than 269 years after the landing at Plymouth Rock. These courageous souls travailed to escape oppression and tyranny, seeking religious freedom on our shores. Would they find it again if they came now?
The hewn granite is not just a memorial; it is a bright beacon in the night, a compass, a road map that can bring us back from the brink of our self-destructive moral and legal anarchy. If we will only listen, its meanings are very clear, communicated both by its physical forms and words. It represents the tapestry of ideas based on objective truth that have been woven in the fabric of America, making us truly unique in world history—a cultural roadmap of sorts. We ought to return to “the ancient paths” where wisdom and safety are found. We forget these truths to our peril. What are they?
Faith, adorned with a star representing wisdom, is at the apex of the monument holding an open Bible and pointing to heaven. Below Faith are four smaller statutes. The first, Morality, holding the Ten Commandments and the scroll of Revelation, is seated below faith. Morality is flanked by Prophet and Evangelist, confirming that it is the gospel that transforms dark human hearts. Second is Law, joined by Justice and Mercy. Third is Education, flanked by Youth and Wisdom. Fourth is Liberty, which is joined by Tyranny Overthrown and Peace. The monument’s message to us today is that truth is timeless and it not dependent on the shifting sands of the human heart. It cries out that America can only function well as a healthy society if we have morality, law, education, and liberty—all finding their source in the transcendent truth of our Creator.
The front panel is inscribed with: “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.” Until our generation is willing to labor, sacrifice, and suffer for the cause of civil and religious liberty, we will remain truly lost in a dark wilderness. The side panels include the names of the original Mayflower Pilgrims. The back of the monument includes 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.”
Remember! We must not lose heart or give up. As darkness encroaches nationwide and religious freedom increasingly faces existential threats, we may be tempted to slumber, but we owe it to those who have suffered and sacrificed so much for our freedom, including the Pilgrims, to remember again what we have forgotten!
Do you have a casual relationship with the truth? Remember! Have you forgotten your first love? Repent! Do your children understand that Faith in the God of the Bible is precisely why America is free? Train them! Is your Church contenting for the gospel, or has it abandoned it? Admonish! Have you explained to your grandchildren what religious freedom is and why it matters? Instruct them! Do you desire to truly be on the right side of history? Stand firm! If you truly love your children and grandchildren, you will remember the truth and take godly action accordingly. Lies destroy. Truth is healing.
The hour is late. Let us awake, arise, and renew our commitment to faithful small beginnings, so that one small candle may light a thousand, until liberty’s light blazes once more, from shore to shore.
— by Dean R. Broyles, Esq.
Broyles is a constitutional attorney serving as the President of The National Center For Law & Policy (NCLP), an organization fighting to promote and defend religious freedom. Copyright© The National Center For Law & Policy. Reprinted with permission.
Resource: For more information, check out the powerful documentary Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure