Use of the word “celebration” is being banned at this year’s special events ordered by Congress to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of settlers in Jamestown, 13 years before the Plymouth Pilgrims appeared on America’s shores, because it was an “invasion” that resulted in a “holocaust,” organizers say.
“You can’t celebrate an invasion,” Mary Wade, an influential Jamestown 2007 Commemoration planner and Indian activist, has stated. After all, Indian tribes “were pushed back off of their land, even killed. Whole tribes were annihilated. A lot of people carry that oral history with them, and that’s why they use the word ‘invasion,’ because it truly was an invasion, and I’m sure some of the Indian people will probably want to tell that as a part of the story of 400 years.”
And that has some experts in history upset, since the advent of Jamestown provided what later became the United States with important introductions to Christian common law, a republican representative government, the first Protestant Christian worship service, and its first interracial marriage.
Wade’s comments came in an interview with Voice of America, and highlighted the revisions that are going on regarding the history of Jamestown – and America. It also left a message about how important are the disputes over the political perspective now being applied retroactively to America’s history.
“I believe this is one of the most significant battles of our day,” said Doug Phillips, president of Vision Forum Ministries and the founder of the Jamestown Quadricentennial: A Celebration of America’s Providential History, Vision Forum’s own series of events to celebrate the quadracentennial. “It is the battle for our history.”
He cited the fact that the Jamestown settlers arrived with not only an economic commission from England, but orders to spread the Good News of Jesus, noting one of the founders of Jamestown, Richard Hakluyt, wrote, “Wee shall by plantinge there inlarge the glory of the gospel, and from England plante sincere religion, and provide a safe and a sure place to receave people from all partes of the worlds that are forced to flee for the truthe of Gods worde.”
And he said the Bible, in Psalm 78, tells readers, “If we don’t tell the great deeds of God, our children will lose hope.” But he said the secular perspectives that are the focal point of the contemporary events miss that Christian perspective, and that will end up being costly.
“We are destroying our children’s generation by robbing them of history. They don’t know who they are or where they came from,” he told WND in an interview.
Phillips said America is known world-wide for its celebration, from the millions of dollars worth of fireworks ignited each 4th of July to the major festivities launched for other events, such as the 1976 Bicentennial.
But now, for the first time ever, the nation is ashamed of itself, so ashamed, he noted, Jamestown 2007 officials have banned the use of the word “celebration” in their materials.
On the other hand, they still are interested in attracting paying visitors to the region to fund their various activities, so they have turned this year’s acknowledgment of the history into a bashfest.
“For America’s 400th birthday, what should be a celebration of gratitude to the Lord is fast becoming an homage to revisionist historiography and political correctness,” Phillips said.
For example, an event called, “State of the Black Union 2007: America’s 400th Anniversary: The African American Imprint on America,” already has been held. Its goal was a conversation about “how African Americans have made this nation great and how we must continue to fight to make the state of Black America a more perfect union.”
Two other discussion headlines have included: “A Concentrated Diversity: The Maroons of the Great Dismal Swamp, 1619 to 1860,” and “The Ecology of Jamestown – Origin of Environmental Injustice in America.”
Said one commentary by Ken Adams, a tribal leader: “The British government finally sent enough people to take over all the land, which the Indians owned, and in the process of the wars that followed, 90 percent of an entire human race of people died.”
“Yet, by God’s grace, grateful Christians have an opportunity to officially celebrate America’s great heritage on her 400th birthday,” Phillips said.
His Vision Forum Ministries will be rallying Americans “from shore to shore to Jamestown” to the “Jamestown Quadricentennial: A Celebration of America’s Providential History.”
Those events will be June 11-16, and will highlight the significant role Jamestown played in creating the United States and its freedoms. There is a fourfold vision for Vision Forum’s plans: to leave a witness for future generations that America did not forget the providential hand of God and Americans are a thankful people willing to honor the faith of their fathers, to create an exciting event that gives families an unforgettable experience, to leave a record of poetry and literature for following generations, and to leave “rocks of remembrance and Ebenezers of hope” that will provide vision for children of today.
A featured guest will be Harrison Tyler, the man whose father called for the Tercentenary 100 years ago and whose grandfather, the nation’s 10th president, John Tyler, Jr., keynoted the 250th celebration.
Kevin Crossett, a spokesman for the formal Jamestown 2007 organization, said the historians decided to highlight free enterprise, representative government and cultural diversity in this year’s “commemoration.”
“That’s not to say that other legacies are not important. These are the three that … are the most well-known,” he told WND. Besides, other organizations are marking the Christian legacy, he said. “It’s not being promoted as such from our office.”
He said the use of the “commemoration” was changed from “celebration,” as the events have been known for the last 200 years, because of objections from blacks and Native Americans.
“When we started planning the culturally diverse aspects of the Jamestown story, the African-American and Indian communities said, ‘This isn’t necessary a celebration for us,’” he said. “Those words struck home.”
While that may have happened, Phillips notes that the actions resulting from those words actually is changing the history, since the settlers in Jamestown were commissioned to carry the message of Christianity, and did that in many ways.
“America’s first published author was Captain John Smith, who described the arrival of the Jamestown settlers in 1607 as an act of providential goodness. America’s spiritual ‘first family,’ the Mathers of New England, authored numerous works on Providence. America’s first charter as an independent nation, the Declaration of Independence, announced that our ability to persevere as a nation rested in our ‘firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.’ Just weeks before the Declaration was signed, America’s first great political mentor, the Rev. John Witherspoon (himself a signer of the Declaration and the tutor to one sixth of the members of our Constitutional Convention) authored ‘The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men.’ Even America’s first president regularly invoked the God of providence in his writings,” he said.
“Thus, gratitude to the sovereign God for His many providential blessings is not only biblical, it is richly American,” Phillips said.
“In 1807 for the two hundredth, 1957 for the 250th, 1907 for the three hundredth, and then again in 1957 for the 350th anniversary celebration of America’s birthday at Jamestown, our nation was enthusiastically reminded of these glorious acts of Divine Providence,” Phillips noted.
For example, in 1857, former President John Tyler, Jr. gave a three-hour keynote oration tracing 250 years of providence, perseverance, and blessing.
Here amid the graves of our ancestors, we renew our pledges to those principles of self-government, which have been consecrated by their examples through two-hundred and fifty years; and implore that great Being who so often and signally preserved them through trials and difficulties, to continue to our country His protecting guardianship and care.
Phillips said the more liberal members of the media have joined the secularization and diminution of Jamestown’s contributions. “A town which disappeared into the mud,” is from the New York Times while the Virginia Gazette said Jamestown was “not worth it.”
“For a whole year or more we shall celebrate the fact that a bunch of British buffoons who knew nothing of what they were doing colonized a swamp for the sake of Christianizing Indians,” the paper said.
If such efforts are successful, “ours will be the first generation in the history of America at the time of a landmark historical celebration to officially and publicly despise our birthright and the providential hand of God in the life of our people,” Phillips noted.
The event planning has been going on for years, and it was in 2000 when Congress passed the Jamestown 400th Commemoration Commission Act, setting up the organizing structure for the events now going on.
The official propaganda from that group carries it even further. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine told an early event that those previous celebrations “did not tell the whole story,” and he introduced a panel including Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Otis Moss. Moss said this nation should be required to fix “the propaganda of history,” and those Jamestown settlers were guilty of mass “holocaust” and “lynchings.”
The reality is that the Jamestown settlers were people, Phillips said. “The true record includes warts, bumps, and bruises … What makes this story so compelling is that God worked through remarkable but flawed men to advance a mission that was based on a prime directive of New Testament Christianity. The result – a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”
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