In his journal, Of Plymouth Plantation, Governor William Bradford wrote, “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.”
Those words are inscribed on a spectacular monument that, sadly, because of its remote location, is infrequently visited.
Located in Plymouth, Massachusetts, The National Monument to the Forefathers towers 81 feet tall. Dedicated in 1889, it took 30 years to build and is believed to be the world’s largest solid granite monument.
Most people are familiar with Plymouth Rock, but few know of the special monument erected in honor of the Mayflower passengers who journeyed to the New World in hopes of a better life.
Largely forgotten, the statue was brought back into the public eye by Kirk Cameron’s 2012 film, Monumental.
Full of rich symbolism, the monument is a reminder of the foundation the Pilgrims laid as they sought a world in which they would be free to worship God according to their convictions.
Standing atop a giant octagonal pedestal is the 36-foot-tall statue, appropriately named Faith. Her eyes gaze eastward over the Atlantic, looking toward Plymouth, England, from where the Pilgrims fled. Her right hand points to heaven acknowledging the Creator. With a star on her forehead, Faith holds a partially opened Bible in her left hand, indicating the Word of God as the source of knowledge.
Flowing from Faith and seated below her are four additional Pilgrim virtues, allegorically personified as Morality, Law, Education, and Liberty.
Without eyes, Morality peers inward to examine her internal character, thus highlighting the need to first deal with issues of the heart that will ultimately affect external conduct. She holds the Ten Commandments in her left hand and the scroll of Revelation in her right, illustrating how morality flows from God’s Word, beginning to end.
Morality is seated beside Law, suggesting that God’s moral law extends into civil law. Subsequently, Law holds the civil code in his left hand, with his right hand extended in mercy.
Next comes Education. Seated with her open Bible, she wears a wreath of victory representing her inherent freedom to educate her children and train them up in the way they should go.
Seated last is Liberty. In his left hand, he holds broken chains, signifying that the chains of tyranny have been broken. English tyrants were represented as lions; thus Liberty has the skin of a slain lion draped over him, further depicting tyranny’s defeat. Liberty sits alert, a sheathed sword in his right hand indicating he does not want to fight but will if necessary.
The way back
Sometimes called “The Matrix of Liberty,” this striking monument clearly depicts the formula desired and applied by the Pilgrims, the biblical foundation that brought about the blessings and prosperity of this great nation.
Described as Plymouth’s best kept secret, years of forested growth and city development have hidden this monument from the masses. Likewise, years of apathy, complacency, and moral decay have hidden the virtues personified in the monument from the American way of life.
As the nation reels in turmoil, trying desperately to find its way, why not return to the Pilgrims’ way? It worked for them. It can work again.
See the monument
In film ... Though the film Monumental is out of production, it can be purchased at various online retailers. It is also available here, along with a training course and study guide. A low-resolution screening is available on YouTube.
In person ... 72 Allerton Street, Plymouth, Massachusetts
Matthew White penned this patriotic article. He is a staff writer for The Stand, a monthly publication of American Family Association. This article appeared originally in the July 2021 issue.