After spending the first half of Day Five on the Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruise, we headed back west toward our Boston hotel, but with one more stopover in mind along the way: the town of Plymouth, location of the celebrated area where those stalwart adventurers known in American textbooks as the Pilgrims settled in 1620, established a new life apart from the Church of England, and invented the Thanksgiving holiday that large American department stores have all but abolished.
In 1889, as a salute to those religious pioneers and their works, the National Monument to the Forefathers was erected, albeit originally with the simpler name of “Pilgrim Monument”. It was later renamed to avoid conflict with another structure with that same label in Provincetown, the place on the eastern edge of Cape Cod where the Pilgrims first walked ashore but decided not to stick around.
Over eight stories tall, the Monument isn’t hard to spot from a distance, though internet mapping sites threw a fit trying to navigate us to it. We ended up parking several blocks away and walking because both Mapquest and Google Maps swore it was “just right there.” Liars, both.
Closer shot, minus the surroundings and retaining just one tourist for size context.
Despite its size and age, the Monument isn’t an officially designated federal monument with all the signage that would be included in that prize package. Instead the mission statement is inscribed into the Monument itself so it can better loom over all observers.
Another side contains a handy Pilgrim role call, giving credit where credit’s due. Bonus points if you can trace your lineage to any of these folks.
The numerous adornments include some modest friezes. This one obviously represents the Pilgrims’ arrival in the New World, when all was shiny and new and not yet overrun with invaders from beyond.
Another frieze salutes the sensitive negotiations of the first Thanksgiving, presumably featuring special guest Squanto. To learn more about the first Thanksgiving, you can search for related materials online, see if you still have a local library, or watch that classic Thanksgiving episode of The Brady Bunch (the one about Greg’s student film project) online in its entirety for free courtesy of CBS.
The Monument is surrounded on four sides by four endearing Pilgrim qualities personified. Liberty appears to be a Roman soldier.
Morality is a robed lady of understandable modesty. I failed to note what’s on her stone tablet, though I’m sure I could hazard a guess.
Law is a stern fellow whose gesturing fingers have been eroded by the ravages of time and cosmic irony.
Education is a Greek schoolmarm holding an open book, an object that future generations may not recognize and will need to have explained to them.
The monumental topper above all others is Faith, carrying the Bible in one hand and raising heavenward with the other. Works for me.
To be continued!
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]