Thanksgiving is about greater than gratitude, far more. On December 22, 1820, at Plymouth, Massachusetts on the bicentennial of the touchdown of the Pilgrims, Daniel Webster proclaimed,
Allow us to rejoice that we behold this present day. Allow us to be grateful that we now have lived to see the intense and comfortable breaking of the auspicious morning which begins the third century of the historical past of New England. Auspicious certainly… is the daybreak that awakens us to the commemoration of the touchdown of the Pilgrims…. Eternally honored be this, the place of our fathers’ refuge! Eternally remembered the day which noticed them [arrive]weary and distressed, damaged in the whole lot however spirit, poor in all however religion and braveness, ultimately safe from the risks of wintry seas.
Their braveness was chronicled by William Bradford, who recorded that as that they had contemplated emigrating to the New World, “It was granted that the risks had been nice, however not determined. The difficulties had been many, however not invincible…; and all of them, by the assistance of God, by fortitude and endurance, would possibly both be borne or overcome.” And in preparation for his or her journey, they held a day of fasting and “pouring out prayers to the Lord with nice fervency, combined with abundance of tears.”
Crusing on a northern route throughout the Atlantic by treacherous storms, the ship sailed into Cape Cod on November 11, 1620. “Being thus arrived in a very good harbor and introduced protected to land,” Bradford reported, “they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had introduced them over the huge and livid ocean, and delivered them from all of the perils and miseries thereof.”
A scouting occasion was despatched out to discover a appropriate place to settle, and on December 21, the Pilgrims—utilizing the time period Bradford himself used: “they knew they had been pilgrims”—stepped ashore at Plymouth. As recounted on the web site of the Mayflower Venture,
They had been filled with hope making a greater life for themselves and their youngsters, whereas having the ability to worship freely and in peace. Undoubtedly probably the most well-known colonists in world historical past, their religion and fortitude are legendary. Their perseverance laid the cornerstone of a brand new Nation. The Pilgrims’ braveness, gratitude to God, and love for each other nonetheless encourage folks at the moment. The story of mayflower and her tumultuous trans-Atlantic crossing, Plymouth Colony, with its tragic first winter, treaty with the Wampanoag Folks and celebrated First Thanksgiving, echoes down the ages and all over the world. No matter something that got here earlier than or after, Plymouth is the “as soon as upon a time” to the story of the US—the symbolic, if not literal, birthplace of our Nation…. [They] created a brand new society… [and] crafted a area wealthy in mind, spirituality, self-government and commerce; a spot of artistic splendors whose affect on American tradition and the world is invaluable.
Honoring the legacy of these brave Pilgrims has introduced peace and prosperity to America on a scale by no means earlier than seen in historical past. However America is now lapsing into the historic phenomenon as soon as described by the Florentine thinker Niccolo Machiavelli (as right here summarized by Sebastian de Grazia) when “one technology doesn’t bear in mind what the earlier one suffered and realized and transmitted in ideas of legislation, customized, and faith.”
Too lengthy a time has handed with out concern for elementary beliefs: “males start to range customs and transgress the legal guidelines.”… Males slide away from the basics of their spiritual and political communities and want once in a while to be reminded, as Niccolo as soon as phrases it, “to return towards the goal.” True of kingdoms and religions, that is true even of republics, the place one… would possibly anticipate that liberty isn’t forgotten, “the place the general public buildings, the locations of the magistrates, the insignia of free establishments recollect it.”
At this time as America’s buildings and courtrooms and foreign money nonetheless proclaim “In God We Belief,” freedom of speech and faith are underneath unprecedented assault at the same time as our Pilgrim legacy is being discarded and denigrated. In a “woke” tradition when these standing for religion and freedom and household run the danger of being “cancelled,” the Pilgrims’ instance calls to us throughout the centuries. “This nation got here into being,” stated Ezra Taft Benson, by “sacrifice, labor, and wrestle. Courageous People gave their lives within the settlement of this nation—and in its preservation. Allow us to bear in mind our heritage and acknowledge that the day of braveness, labor, and sacrifice isn’t performed.”