By Dale Glading
November 20th marks the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims arriving in the New World. Of the 102 passengers that set sail from Plymouth, England, all but one survived the 10-week voyage aboard the 100-foot long Mayflower.
Originally, a second ship, the Speedwell, was supposed to accompany the Mayflower. However, it sprung a series of leaks, forcing the Mayflower to take on additional passengers until it was severely overcrowded and its supplies depleted.
After several weeks of calm seas under clear skies, one northeasterly storm after another battered the small ship with ocean swells exceeding 100 feet. While the 30 crew members fought to keep the Mayflower afloat, its passengers huddled below deck in near-darkness, cramped together in an 80’ by 20’ living area with a five-foot ceiling.
When the Pilgrims arrived in modern-day Cape Cod, they signed a covenant to self-govern their small colony before disembarking from their ship. The Mayflower Compact – and their religious faith – held them together during that first brutal winter during which half of the colonists died.
The following November, those who remained celebrated the first Thanksgiving. Indigenous Americans, whose aid was instrumental in their having survived, served as the Pilgrims’ honored guests.
I share these facts about the Pilgrims because you won’t hear much about them this year. Despite the historic nature of their voyage, the 400th anniversary of their landing at Plymouth Rock has been cancelled due to the pandemic. Do you sense the irony? One hundred courageous people fled Europe to seek religious freedom – braving the high seas in a small, wooden boat – and yet, we cannot honor their undaunting faith and their remarkable achievement because of COVID-19?
They huddled together, one person per square foot in the days before antibiotics, but we cannot celebrate their journey because we are too busy social distancing… and cowering in fear over a virus with a 99% survival rate?
Governors in blue states are issuing stay-at-home orders and threatening to fine or arrest people who have too many guests for Thanksgiving dinner. Meanwhile, the Pilgrims willingly rubbed elbows with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of unvaccinated Native Americans.
How far we have fallen, America! And how desperately we need to start demonstrating the faith, courage, fortitude, and independence embodied by the Pilgrims.
Let’s start by telling Gavin Newsom (CA), Kate Brown (OR), Gretchen Witmer (MI), Phil Murphy (NJ), Tom Wolf (PA), and Andrew Cuomo (NY) to take a collective hike… and to take their draconian restrictions with them. Come on, people, start channeling your “inner Pilgrim” and stand up to these autocrats.
If we fail to resist and fight back now, the only thing we will be commemorating 400 years from now will be our voluntary enslavement to a totalitarian government – and that is nothing to celebrate.
Dale Glading is an ordained minister and former N.J. Republican candidate for Congress.