Three-thousand miles was a long distance to navigate through raging seas especially during this time of year. The Speedwell had already developed a leak on their first attempt and they had to put her to port for refit. However, the second vessel stood ready and waiting for the signal from the captain to weigh anchor and set sail.
She was a sound ship indeed; her shear line ran over a hundred feet. Six sails graced her three masts and she would need all of them to brave the cold and vicious Atlantic Ocean to make port in a timely fashion.
It was an early September morning, the sixth day of the month, and all 102 passengers, 25 crew members, and the captain were on board the Mayflower and anxious to sail. The hold supplied only enough room for the two-months of rations, gear, and belongings to accommodate the long journey. With the cargo and passengers loaded and the hatches battened, Captain Christopher Jones walked too amidships and hollered to his boatswain and conner, “Weigh anch’r an’ cas’ off. ‘Ere’s a lot o’ sea a ‘ead a’ us mates.”
The windless cranked into action as the anchor slowly ascended to its place of rest. God willing, it wouldn’t drop again for at least another two months – or better.
“Aye aye captain,” the bosun shouted. He turned to his crew and yelled “Ye ‘eard ‘e captain mates. Look lively. . .cas’ off ‘e lines, an’ unclew ‘e sheets. . .” He paused, waiting for the right moment, and shouted, “Fill em up!”
The morning air came alive with chattering and commotion as the canvas began to unfurl and loud snapping sounds evidenced the opening of the sheets as they flapped, struggling to catch the right side of the wind. The masts creaked and strained under the stress of the sails as they bellowed in the wind. The ship lurched to the right but finally acquiesced to the wind’s power.
The conner screamed down instructions to the helmsman who was below deck manning the whipstaff, “We ‘ave canvas. . .easy as ye go. . .two points to starboard.”
As the sails tightened to fullness, the ship began to ease away from the dock. After all these months of preparation, they were finally moving! ‘Tween decks was full of indiscernible, but joyful, conversation as the passengers shook hands and hugged one another. “Praise Almighty God, for He has delivered us from the hands of our oppressors.” Smiles and tears of joy filled their faces and the shouts of praise continued to reach toward heaven.
The Mayflower left Plymouth, England on a rainy and chilly day September 6, 1620 and sailed west into the horizon. For sixty-six days, all the crew could see was water. . .and more water, until they safely dropped anchor at New Plymouth, Massachusetts on November 11, 1620.
Cooped up between decks for 66 days with no chair, no bed, and no accommodations whatsoever with nothing but a chamber pot for a toilet, the 101 remaining religious separatists looked forward to dropping anchor and going ashore. The fact that they hadn’t had a shower in over two months didn’t stop them from hugging each other as the smiles and joy returned to their faces.
In the excitement of success they forgot momentarily about their seasickness and about the injuries sustained when the wind-tossed vessel had thrown them against the insides of the hull. They forgot that the crew had rescued John Howland who went overboard when getting some air. They forgot about the storms, the mast cracking, and when things were ok, the boredom. For a moment, they even forgot the agony of losing two friends in route and the joy of bringing a baby into the world. Although they were now only 101 strong, they were indeed, ready to go ashore.
Fate, however, had not dealt them their last hand. Because of the winter weather and with no place as yet to dwell on land, they all had to stay aboard the Mayflower. Tragically, 48 more people died from a contagious disease, thought to be a mixture of scurvy, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. To their grief, only fifty-three Pilgrims and half of the crew survived. However, history was about to be made.
I am in awe at the courageous undertaking of a handful of people trying to escape British tyranny and religious persecution; putting their courage where their mouth was and sailing across the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, eventually to found this great nation of ours, which would eventually be the most successful, prosperous, giving, strongest, and freest nation in the history of mankind.
The caliber of people that made that crossing typifies the selfless courage of the average American spirit. Fifty-three courageous men and women built this country on their backs. It was a shame that the journey that had brought all but two of them safely to the New World, had ended so terribly. They had no idea what they were about to start, but they didn’t care – THEY WERE FREE. They all knew too well that there is a cost for freedom.
For the next 156 years, Plymouth, Massachusetts would grow to 13 colonies and in 1776, July 4th; the Continental Congress authored, established, and ratified the Declaration of Independence. They signed it on August 2nd of that same year and America was born.
Two-hundred and forty-one years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, many lives would be lost defending this great country. In fact, since the ratification, America has defended her existence no less than 53 times in wars and conflicts, never to be beat. Only through the undying loyalty, patriotism, and sacrifices of soldiers, and through the grace of Almighty God, has she managed to defeat every enemy that has come against her.
Thank goodness the American patriots came to their senses and voted in an administration that would save us from the threat of socialism and are only now standing up to ISIS and an Islam Caliphate. We have heard the cry from the grave and I feel that the many men and women who have died for our country were all turning over in their graves. I can hear all their voices in unison screaming at us This is what I died for? You mean to tell me that I sacrificed my life, my family, my hopes, my dreams, and my desires to offer my services to a country that I love; for a country that I’d die for – and did, so that people could live in a socialistic, Muslim society? You have spit in my face sir.”
America has always been a self-governing nation and is the greatest experiment of human government since the dawning of time. We will, and cannot bow to the socialists who would overthrow us and turn us into a nanny state.
After all the death and carnage that we have gone through as a nation, it is unconscionable that we would give up and acquiesce to anybody at all, let alone to socialism or invading countries. We were, in fact, spitting in the faces of the soldiers, not only of today, but in the faces of those who have died before them. We spat in the faces of the families who have lost loved ones in battle. In effect, we were minimizing their service, sacrifice, and death. We were also spitting in God’s face, who gave this country to us as a gift – a gift of freedom, a gift of a truly free people.
I honor our troops and each one of us owes them our lives. How many of us take our freedoms for granted while they sleep in mud holes with no heat, no running water, or not even a chamber pot. The troops sacrifice themselves so that you and I can watch our TV, worship at the church of our choice, shop in all the fancy stores, eat our steak and tater meals, and step into a private voting booth to vote for the person of our choice. Sad as it is, they even lay in the trenches for our freedom of speech so that we can speak our mind on a street corner while protesting the war and ragging on the same troops that are defending their right to do so.
God bless our troops who are still fighting for our cause;
God bless those soldiers who have died for us;
God bless the families who have lost loved ones in the service of our country; and
God bless America; may she reign in the hearts of men for evermore.
Let freedom ring and may the Stars and Stripes proudly fly forever. I guarantee you that they will on my front porch! AMEN anD AMEN.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. [Psalms 33:12 KJV]