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Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set. – Proverbs 22:28
Fifty years ago, the queen of England traveled to Jamestown for the 350th anniversary of the birth of America in 1607. At Jamestown Festival Park, she visited a giant Christian cross that had been erected just months before “in gratitude” for the Christian men and women who gave their lives for future generations.
It was near the spot of this cross that more than 300 men and women were hastily buried under color of darkness to hide from the Indians the massive losses to starvation and sickness.
At the base of the cross is a plaque that declares: “To the Glory of God” and then references and cites the New Testament.
But there will be no “official” Christian monuments placed when the queen returns in May for the 400th.
In fact, there will be no new monuments.
Gratitude is simply not a priority for officials who have banned the use of the word “celebration” and who view the displacement of paganism by Christianity as an embarrassment.
Edward Rothstein of the New York Times put it this way: “[N]ow, two months before the 400th anniversary festivities begin, the monumental hardly matters anymore, and neither, it seems, does John Smith. … what will [the queen] find? Not the triumph of British influence, but the triumph of ambiguity, discomfort and vague multiculturalism.”
Past generations of Americans had a different approach.
They recognized the importance of using historic anniversaries to raise up rocks of remembrance to the glory of God and to remember His providential blessings through the lives of our forefathers.
For the 250th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement, former United States President John Tyler exhorted Americans:
What if the inscription on the monuments erected over the dead be rendered illegible by time, and the monuments themselves be in fragments; yet is there a glory encircling those ruins, and arising from the earth on which those adventurers trod, which decay cannot reach, and which the lapse of centuries can only make more imposing. We are to do them reverence, and in the silent homage of the heart to utter thanksgiving and praise to our Heavenly Parent for the great benefits which, under His good providence, their hardy and successful adventures have conferred upon us and upon the world.
Fifty years after Tyler’s speech, the great 103-foot-tall Jamestown Tercentenary Monument was erected by the United States in 1907. It bears the following inscription:
Lastly and chiefly the way to prosper and achieve good success is to make yourselves all of one mind for the good of your country and your own, and to serve and fear God the giver of all goodness, for every plantation which our heavenly father hath not planted shall be rooted out.
Just yards away from the Tercentenary Monument is the Rev. Hunt Memorial Shrine, commemorating the first Protestant Christian worship services in the New World. Around the corner in the Jamestown church, one can read markers of gratitude for the heroes of Jamestown, including another convert to Christianity named Chanco who saved the lives of many of the settlers.
This year would have been the first significant anniversary celebration in a century without a monument or marker of gratitude being placed to God.
But then legions of children began to step forward to remedy the problem.
Yes, there will be one monument placed for the 400th – The Jamestown Children’s Memorial.
Paid for by the one-dollar donations of the children of this generation, this privately sponsored monument (designed and sponsored by Vision Forum Ministries) will be a reminder to future generations that this generation honored its fathers by raising rocks of remembrance on the anniversary of our nation’s birth.
Carved by the same company that built the now-legendary Alabama Ten Commandments Monument, the Jamestown Children’s Memorial will be a beautiful edifice crowned with a sculpting of Holy Scripture opened to Psalm 78 – the text which admonishes fathers to teach the providences of God so that their children might have hope.
Artist’s rendition of proposed quadricentennial monument ? actual design subject to change.
An appropriate – soon to be revealed – historically significant spot by the James has been secured to place the memorial. Those who visit the monument will note that its four sides reveal the Fifth Commandment, words of Christian exhortation from the visionaries behind Jamestown and a list of providential accomplishments through the history of the settlement. It also includes the following acknowledgement:
In gratitude to the Lord our God for the mercy and kindness bestowed upon the American people and the children of the 21st century, through His providential direction and care of our Jamestown forefathers. Erected on the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement by the grateful children of America.
Someday, the children of this generation will be parents. They will have children who in turn will have children.
My question is this: How will they remember us?
One hundred years from now, America will celebrate its five hundredth birthday. Behind this vision of the monument is a prayer for that occasion: On that great anniversary, the children of the 22nd century will be inspired and encouraged to learn that a remnant of children from the 21st came forward to honor their forefathers and to give thanks to the Lord on the occasion of America’s 400th birthday celebration.
On that day in 2107 – should the Lord will it so – a time capsule under the monument will be opened. In the time capsule will be a scroll with the names of all the children who stepped forward to honor their American forefathers by contributing one dollar to the Jamestown Children’s Memorial. Those names will be read. And perhaps, just perhaps, the great grandchildren of the grateful children of the 21st century will be present to thank God, not just for America, but for the faith of their fathers.
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