One of the treasures of Plymouth is the Forefather’s Monument. Originally known as the Pilgrim Monument, it is the largest free standing granite monument in the world, towering eighty one feet tall. It is truly immense in scale, however it’s size was not the most impressive aspect. The message that this monument conveys about how to model a sustainable free society is absolutely mind blowing.
I have personally visited this site three times now and continue to be moved by the simple message represented in granite at this monument. Wendy was here for the first time and was equally impressed by the simple and profound statement that it makes.
Thirty years after it was started, in 1859, the monument was completed. The main dedication plaque on it states:
from a grateful people in remembrance of their labors, sacrifices and sufferings for the cause of civil and religious liberty
There is a tremendous amount of symbolism in the carvings of this monument. It is made up of a central figure, Faith, which is surrounded by four other carvings, Morality, Law, Education, and Liberty. Each of the four side statues as two relief carvings on either side supporting that particular item.
I’ll try to sum up the general message the best I can here but I’d recommend looking into it further if your interested. Kurt Cameron actually has a movie called Monumental that talks about the message conveyed which is an excellent way to spend some of your time (I think it’s on Netflix).
In order to have a sustainable free society it needs to work from the bottom up, starting with the people, and then represented in the government. It can’t work top down, as is now becoming the case in America, where the government thinks it knows better then the people, and needs to make choices for them by passing laws limiting what we can and can’t do.
It starts first with a faith in Christ and a morality built on the principals of His Word. From that foundation we can build a set of laws, trying to show the kind of justice and mercy we see represented in the Bible. This is a good starting point for a society but it is not going to automatically sustain itself, hence the next section of the monument speaks to the importance of education, where the wisdom of the older ones is passed off to the youth. The understanding of God’s Word and His place at the center of our lives must be understood by the rising generations in order for the cycle to continue. Finally the carvings speaks to what is needed to maintain liberty, it is not something that can be maintained without diligence, because of our sinful nature tyranny will always seek to infiltrate any form of government and we must recognize it, and act to stop it.
That just touches the surface of the message here, and I’m afraid I do a pretty weak job of explaining it, especially compared to my friend Mary Stauffer, who first introduced my children, and myself to this monument through the Dayspring field trips.
If your ever in the Plymouth area, look up this monument and pay it a visit, you won’t be disappointed!