America’s tradition of strong women began with the Mayflower. One of the best-loved examples in American history and literature is Priscilla Mullins (later Priscilla Alden).
The great poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, himself a descendant of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins Alden, made their romance the center of his great epic The Courtship of Miles Standish. He vividly imagined a scene in early Plymouth Colony. Two Mayflower passengers, the shy (and handsome) John Alden and the gruff and inarticulate Captain Miles Standish, have both fallen in love with the lovely Priscilla Mullins. The Captain beseeches John to approach Priscilla on his behalf. John, bound by friendship and duty, reluctantly agrees to set aside his own strong feelings. Priscilla, however, makes her own choice. She asks, in her own gracious, charming, modest, but absolutely determined way - “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?”
The Speak for Thyself Award honors exceptional women, women who – in the spirit of Priscilla Mullins – make their own choices. The Award recognizes the role of women in America as Pilgrims, pioneers, advocates, community organizers, politicians and business leaders, as well as mothers, sisters, wives and friends, women whose daily lives are a reflection of America. The Speak for Thyself Award puts a face on these women while maintaining a presence in the 21st century for a family and a homestead of the 17th century.
Previous recipients of the Speak for Thyself Award include Barbara Bush (in absentia), Doreen Bilezikian, Loretta LaRoche, Helen Philbrick, Marianne Leone Cooper, Phyllis P. Godwin, Elizabeth Nightingale, Anne Antonellis, Hollis “Holly” Morris, and Elizabeth “Betsy” Sullivan. Each of these women embodies, in their unique way, the spirit and courage and commitment of Priscilla Mullins Alden in speaking for the causes and issues that concern them and their communities.
2009’s honorees are:
- Tania Cooper Patriota, UN Population Fund Representative in Haiti and wife of Brazilian Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota;
- Therese Murray, President of the Massachusetts Senate;
- Dorothy “Dolly” Snow Bicknell, President of Project Gurnet & Bug Lights and Duxbury community leader, and
- Joanne Moore, Director of Council on Aging, Duxbury Senior Center.
The 2009 Speak for Thyself Award banquet will be held on June 20, 2009, at the Duxbury Senior Center, with proceeds to benefit the educational endeavors of the Alden House Historic Site.
The Speak for Thyself Award banquet offers several opportunities for sponsorships. Each of these sponsorships not only affords visibility for the sponsor but honors both the 2008 award recipients and the spirit of that strong (yet charming) Pilgrim woman, Priscilla Mullins Alden of Duxbury.
The Alden Kindred of America, Inc., founded over 100 years ago, aims to “preserve the spirit and tradition of those early Pilgrims from beyond the sea, whose sturdy strength and fearless integrity lies at the basis of our nation’s greatness.” The Kindred has a deep belief in the importance of family heritage as it relates to the source of American strength and values. Through the Alden House Historic Site, the Alden Kindred has the unique opportunity to bring history alive. For many years, hundreds of local school children have visited John and Priscilla’s home, where 51 children were born and raised over a period of 350 years.