history-genealogy site

This is a site where I will discuss my family genealogy research and related history. When a blog deals with a particular family group, I will try to include it in the title so uninterested people can skip it without skimming it. It is my hope to get feedback on research methods, family members and historical context from other historians, genealogists, and researchers. (c) Barbara L. de Mare 2006, 2007

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Location: Englewood, New Jersey, United States

Monday, July 14, 2008

DAR CONTINENTAL CONVENTION

I just returned from a week in Washington DC at the annual Continental Congress. What an awesome experience! For those of you unfamiliar with DAR functions, they are the best-run any meeting could possibly be. Everything is timed to precision, and all the work of the work sessions gets accomplished. Committee reports are not to exceed 2 minutes. At the 2 minute mark the President-General and two of her pages stand; the speaker knows to thank the President-General for the privilege to serve in her administration, and sits down. These business meetings generally took place in the morning or afternoon. The evenings were reserved for awards and other such events. Evening sessions start with an armed forces band playing for about half an hour until the procession. The procession starts of course with the American and DAR flags, brought in by pages. More pages follow, each with a flag for one of the 53 states and territories. Dignitaries and DAR national office holders follow, escorted by pages. Finally pairs of pages enter and line either side of the center aisle. Through this comes the President General. DAR rules permit a standing applause for her and her alone, unless the President of the United States is present. As she passes under the front of the hall, a huge American Flag comes out of the ceiling and flutters overhead. When she gets to the lecturn she strikes her gavel to bring the session to order and an interesting and fascinating evening ensues. The opening ritual consists of the invocation given by the Chaplain-General, the Pledge Allegiance to the Flag, the American's Creed, and the singing of the National Anthem. Various people named after the gavel is pounded lead each of these recitations. They have already located themselves at an unobtrusive place on the stage, but from which it is only a few steps to the podium to perform her duty. After this opening the President General announces that the doors will be open while the band leaves, and the chairs and mikes used by the band are quickly removed by the experienced staff. The doors are closed again and stay so for most of the evening, only opening for a few seconds when permission is granted by the President General. The Continental Hall is a huge building which holds in excess of 2,000 people, which was about the attendance on the first night. Each state is seated in prearranged sections. There are also state boxes where the State Regent, State Vice-Regent, and other invited guests sit. The boxes hold 5 seats. Primarily women are present, but there are some male guests and spouses. The women are all attired in evening gowns, the men in tuxedos. The best evening was National Defense Night. The keynote speaker was the Secretary of Defense. Awards were given to men and women alike with very impressive credentials in a variety of fields. The evening proceeds like a well-oiled machine, with all the pagaentry, pomp and circumstance of an English court. The pages on the stage assisting officers and other VIPs seated there are most unobtrusive. The schools night is another impressive event. Awards are given to the outstanding history teacher of the year, the good citizen, and other such. DAR totally supports some schools, and contributes to others. These schools are primarily in Appalachia, started a century ago, for poor mountain children who otherwise would not receive an education. Most are boarding schools, and many neglected and abused children now attend them. The pages remind me of Ladies in Waiting. They are members under the age of forty. To be a page at Continental Congress is a great honor. The pages all wear white evening gowns, and are there to direct traffic, pass notes, get water for those seated on stage, etc. The highest officers have personal pages. This is the most sought-after position. Two of the President General's pages sit behind her. They stand when she stands and sit when she sits. Another of her personal pages is available to take notes from her and carry out the instructions she has given. This description of the Congress only touches on the work done by the DAR. The two areas of greatest focus are schools, including literacy, scholarships, etc., and aid to our men and women in uniform. I sat next to a soldier at the National Defense luncheon who said he knew nothing of the DAR until he was seriously wounded in a hospital in Germany, and he was given "this"--with which he showed us his phone card with the DAR logo on it. He was nearly in tears telling us much it was appreciated by himself and his injured comrades. The phone cards are only one of the many ways in which the DAR supports our military personnel. Sitting in the hall listening to the days of two minute committee reports is a great way to learn more of the work inconspicuously performed for our country and its heritage by the DAR ladies. Unlike the sterotype I had in my head when I joined, it is not an organization of old ladies sitting around having tea. It is a vibrant group of dedicated women, many of whom are Junior members--under the age of 36. There has been a resurgence of membership in the last few years, particularly among young women. For anyone interested in more of the work of the DAR, the NS DAR website can me consulted. I believe it is DAR.org; if not, google NSDAR (NS is "National Society") I have not begun to do the Congress justice, but hopefully those of you who have never attended a Continental Congress get some idea of the flavor of it from this very brief description.

1 Comments:

Blogger Elizabeth said...

Hi Barbara,

Greetings from a fellow DAR member! I was also at the 117th Continental Congress, and blogged about it here. It sure was a good time this year!

I enjoyed your description of the Pages' duties. I was a personal page for Mrs. Watkins several years ago, so I can definitely visualize what you were describing. It's a big responsibility, but also a lot of fun!

Perhaps I'll run into you next year in DC? :-)

~Elizabeth

4:07 PM  

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