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We've all heard the old verse:

"In 14 hundred and 92, Columbus sailed the ocean blue."

The bit of rhyme has long seared the year of Columbus' first voyage to the new world into the minds of schoolchildren across the land. We imagine many readers still remember it to this day.

Truth is Columbus never set foot on what became the United States. But other early settlers came by sea. Among them was a group that left England on September 16, 1620 — 400 years ago today.

The Pilgrims, a group of separatist Puritans, left Plymouth, England, that day on the Mayflower. They dropped anchor off Cape Cod after 10 stormy weeks at sea and went on to found the Plymouth Colony.

The Pilgrims have become a much-loved part of American history. Symbols of determination and independence, they struggled and suffered hard times. Many died. But their legacy lives on in this country we call America.

Usually we only give thought to the Pilgrims at Thanksgiving. But this year — 400 years after they came to this strange new world — it would be most appropriate to remember their courage, faith and perseverance.

Without them, who knows how our history would have turned out?

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