When I was 10 years old, Mom and Dad took me out of school for a trip to all the New England states. One of the stops was Plymouth. I didn’t know it then, but they were giving me a history of my family as well as a lesson about what it means to be an American. As seen by the picture of mom and me on the Mayflower, I was very immersed in the experience. We visited the gravesite of William Bradford, governor of the Massachusetts Colony, co-writer of the Mayflower Compact, inventor of the free market system, and what I found much later, my grandfather 13 generations removed. The words translated from Latin etched on his gravestone say: “What our forefathers with so much difficulty secured, do not basely relinquish.”
Bradford was one of the brave men and women who endured such great hardship to help make this nation what it is—a beacon of religious and economic freedom blessed in covenant with God. And unto his death his gravestone warns us not to basely relinquish these liberties. The Mayflower Compact dedicates this land now called the United States of America to the advancement of the Christian faith. The Compact declares, “IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honor of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia;
“Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience.” With these words, 41 men agreed to govern in submission and obedience to God.
These courageous souls coveted with God to establish a land for the advancement of the Christian faith. And it was not just for their time on earth, but as is written on Bradford’s grave, the covenant and their sacrifices were not to be basely relinquished. Only 41 men began a nation with their signatures. This impressed me as a child, perhaps not so much with complete understanding at the time, but within my young farm boy spirit I became forever moved and awed by their words and deeds. They serve as an inspiring example to me, woven into the fabric of my spirit and later confirmed by my heritage, of overcoming great challenges because as Christ said in Matthew 19:26, “but with God all things are possible.”