To many, the sight of the literal Plymouth Rock (Pilgrim Memorial Park, Water St., 508/747-5360) is fairly underwhelming. It is, after all, merely an oversized glacial boulder. But lest we forget, the fuss is really over the New World that it symbolizes, and the story of those who first sighted it. Our concepts of guts and glory these days tend to be laid at the feet of sports teams.
But the Pilgrims lacked nothing in the bravery department themselves. In fact, they were what you might call the original nation builders (take that reference with whatever positive or negative connotations you like) who felt strongly enough about their religious beliefs that they were willing to risk everything they had in England—their lives included—to find a land in which to practice it.
Unfortunately, theirs was an intolerant and extremist creed, and still more unfortunately, they ran roughshod over many of the peoples who had already existed on their newfound continent for thousands of years. (Plimoth Plantation  is to be commended for acknowledging the reality of this fact.) But history is history, and in a nation that to this day admires pluck as much as anything, it makes sense to learn about our chutzpah-based roots, if not necessarily admire each and every last one of them.