By: Martianne Stanger
What is 81 feet tall, is made of pure granite, and has stood for more than 120 years in a south shore community to remind its viewers of the values which the Pilgrims held dear?
The National Monument to the Forefathers.
Having grown up in Plymouth, I am no stranger to the monument. On numerous occasions I have found myself on the hill at the end of Allerton Street sharing its grandeur with out-of-town friends. Every one I have ever brought to the monument has been wowed by it, some even likening it to the Statue of Liberty. Many have also commented on how surprised they are that so few people know about the monument, for, until recently, it was rare to find another car in the lot when visiting the free historical site.
You can imagine my surprise, then, when about two weeks ago my family went to explore the Forefathers Monument only to find the entire drive that encircles it parked bumper to bumper with minivans and other vehicles. As my children ran to see “Faith,” the 36-foot figure that tops the monument, I asked one of the many visitors milling about if she was part of a group tour despite the lack of any bus in the lot. She said that she was and went on to explain that all of the folks who were with her were from churches in Rhode Island. They had recently seen Kirk Cameron’s documentary, “Monumental” and had decided to come view for themselves the “matrix of liberty” that the movie centers around.
As the Rhode Island group left, another smaller group of tourists arrived. They had booked a professional tour guide who was gracious enough to share his knowledge with our family, too. So, together, we walked around the monument, learning stories behind its representations of Faith, Liberty, Morality, Wisdom and Education.
After the focused history lesson, my children spied some kid-sized trees which they wanted to climb. While the kids scaled the branches of these trees, two teens guided by a twenty-something year-old came to view the monument.
While we were hanging out in the trees, we spied a load of elderly tourists who peered out bus windows as a tour guide spoke into a microphone while the bus they were all on encircled the monument.
Within a span of less than two hours, my family and I witnessed more people visiting the Forefathers Monument than I have in all my prior visits to the monument combined. It would appear that the opening of “Monumental” last spring has brought new popularity to this hitherto sleepy sight.
Should you be in Plymouth anytime soon, I’d recommend stopping by Allerton Street to see the Forefathers Monument for yourself. Whether for religious, historical, or artistic reasons, you would likely find the monument of interest. And, if you have kids, even better! Like my children, they will likely be impressed by the monument’s grandeur and will gently learn a bit about our country’s history. They may also be equally delighted with the open space and trees at the site.
I would have thought my children would have been completely tuckered out by the time we had walked around the Forefathers Monument several times and they climbed nearby trees and began building huts with fallen branches after the recent storms. Instead, as we drove away from the Forefathers Monument, my children were full of observations and questions: “I learned how all those things equal freedom,” one child said. Another asked if we could go see “the cool knight again” (the Romanesque soldier named “Liberty” who stares out from one side of the monument).
I am sure we will. Maybe we’ll see you there. The Forefathers Monument is a great place to visit as we observe Thanksgiving time.