• U.S.

Religion: New Holiday?

2 minute read

November 11 is the anniversary of two great events in U. S. history—the Armistice, signed at Compiegne in 1918, and the Mayflower Compact, signed at sea off Provincetown in 1620.

To many Americans the events of the last 15 months have made the Armistice seem less important and less worthy of a national holiday. So last week Dr. Francis Carr Stifler, editorial secretary of the American Bible Society, suggested that it would be far more appropriate to celebrate the anniversary of the Mayflower Compact this Monday.

“It is the cornerstone on which stand the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights,” he said. “Equally, it is a very clear affirmation of the place of God in American life.” Signed by 41 adult males aboard the Mayflower, the Compact begins roundly “In the name of God, Amen.” Its pious, Bible-inspired signers then put it on record that “We . . . having undertaken for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith … a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia do … solemnly and mutually in the presence of God . . . covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic,” thus giving the first expression in U. S. history to the idea that men can establish a government for themselves by mutual consent of the governed.

The American Legion—which considers Armistice Day as its personal and private property in much the same way that the Grand Army of the Republic once considered Memorial Day—snorted at the very idea of a change. Said Dr. Stifler firmly: “We should celebrate November 11 as the day when the spirit of our free land was really born.”

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