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Did Plymouth Rock?


Today's Snack: Have a muffin or a bagel with a little butter, jelly or cream cheese, but make sure it's soft and fresh, and it isn't as hard as Plymouth Rock!






Cardboard boxes

Old newspapers

Masking tape or duct tape

A can or two of brown or gray spray paint



In Plymouth, Mass., there's a large rock in a memorial park marking the spot where supposedly William Bradford first set foot on American soil in 1620.


But that's probably not exactly what happened. At least, there's no historical proof that Plymouth Rock really did bear the feet of the Pilgrims. It wasn't mentioned in writing for over 100 years after the actual landing. And the date wasn't inscribed in the rock until the 1800s:


So it looks as though Plymouth Rock was the first American tourist trap. But that's a little cynical. It's actually a matter of great pride and reverence. As a symbol of the Pilgrims and our nation's beginning, Plymouth Rock is indeed a beloved and famous piece of American history.


Note what Daniel Webster, one of the greatest Americans ever and a former Secretary of State and U.S. senator, had to say about Plymouth Rock back in 1820:


"We have come to this Rock, to record here our homage for our Pilgrim Fathers; our sympathy in their sufferings; our gratitude for their labours; our admiration of their virtues; our veneration for their piety; and our attachment to those principles of civil and religious liberty, which they encountered the dangers of the ocean, the storms of heaven, the violence of savages, disease, exile, and famine, to enjoy and establish. - And we would leave here, also, for the generations which are rising up rapidly to fill our places, some proof, that we have endeavored to transmit the great inheritance unimpaired; that in our estimate of public principles, and private virtue; in our veneration of religion and piety; in our devotion to civil and religious liberty; in our regard to whatever advances human knowledge, or improves human happiness, we are not altogether unworthy of our origin. . . ."


-- Quoted by the Pilgrim Hall Museum,


There are a lot of famous rocks in the world. The Rock of Gibraltar is one example; you could look it up and compare its size to the lowly little Plymouth Rock.


But to Americans, Plymouth Rock is a giant mountain because of what it stands for.


So why don't YOU create a memorial rock?


Do this alone or with friends. Using cardboard boxes, crumpled newpaper and tape, make your rock as tall or as wide as you'd like. Make sure to protect the floor and walls with additional newspaper, and then spray-paint it so that it looks as real as you can make it.


Maybe you can act out the Pilgrims landing on your rock, taking care not to break it - or maybe you can act out some other kind of scene that you want to remember with your rock memorial.


Then make a plaque telling what the rock symbolizes. Maybe it stands for the hopes and dreams of the kids in your after-school group . . . or your determination to accomplish a certain goal . . . or maybe it's just a symbol of your love for your country and, like Dan'l Webster, your admiration for the Pilgrims' accomplishments.


The best thing about YOUR rock is, when you're tired of it, it won't be so heavy that you can't tear it up and throw it away in the dumpster!


By Susan Darst Williams Americanism 03 2008




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