I love to think and ponder things- random things and sometimes meaningful things. I have tried to explore where my family came from, who they were, and what impact they may have on the world. I find genealogy interesting, especially when it has a personal touch like the TV show “Who Do You Think You Are?” So I hit ancestry.com with my typical mission based attitude. I found out a lot of things, but I guess the most interesting thing this time of year is that my 9th great grandfather was aboard the Mayflower. His name was John Alden (of the Miles Standish love triangle scandal, no less!)
Not long after my discovery, I got to visit Plymouth Plantation and see the replica of what the homes might have looked like and think about how the colonists lived. I got to read the plaques about what the people ate and what they wore and I got to speak with a man who was role playing as one of the pioneer men. He was dressed in era appropriate garb and he spoke with a believable accent. He told about the role that their animals played in their entire existence.
So then my overactive imagination conjured up images of these brave and pioneering people who faced so many obstacles, only for so many to be lost. They left their homes with their eyes on a better life. Perhaps my mission based attitude is genetic from my pioneer ancestor, but nothing that we experience today is like what they endured. They had to watch friends and family sicken and die. They struggled with things that we take for granted. They were forced to make friends with people so different from themselves that they were afraid. They knew hunger, thirst, disease and suffering, but they built this country that we call home.
Today’s generation would be hard pressed to accomplish what they did, I fear. I know I would. I feel cut off from the world when my smart phone battery is dead! I imagined their lives parallel to my own. They would surely think that I was an angel (or a demon) with my strange devices and my “magical” way of healing the sick, but I think that they would they see how important my job would be to their survival. They depended on their animals. The role playing pioneer actor emphasized the importance of their animals in their daily lives. I told him I was a veterinarian and he looked at my quizzically. I tried to slip into character and went on to explain that I have a gift in caring for sick animals and then he smiled and we began to discuss the important role I would have in the colony and how glad he was that I was there.
The replica houses had live animals behind them and the man explained how they cared for and used the animals. Animals are as much a part of our history as the brave people are.
Were there animals at the first Thanksgiving? We do not know for sure, but we do know that without animals, there would not have been one.