Thursday, August 21, 2014

Not my grandmother's DAR anymore!

The first post here under the Nut Tree about the DAR, which you can see here, was all about how I came to get interested in the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, or as everyone usually calls it, the DAR. I was going to now write about the Meet and Greet but first I want to give my impressions of the DAR today. I know that it's early on for me to even have an opinion but sometimes first impressions are more true than not. And I am first to admit that I, along with many others, might have a misconception about the group with out of date images of very proper ladies who always wear white gloves, even to the grocery store, sporting big blue sashes while decked out in, what, maybe hoop skirts. And they never laugh and are always reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. That sure isn't what I found! And I have to say, these ladies laugh. A lot!

Guess I should make it real clear here that I speak for myself alone. This stuff is not approved by anyone, let alone the NSDAR. I'm barely in the door there and my transfer from Member at Large to the local chapter is still working its way through the channels. This is my own deal here and I don't represent anyone or anything. I just think it might be interesting to someone or other what the DAR experience is about for one person. Or maybe not.

And speaking of grandmothers, if my Grandma Kelly would have known about the DAR she would have loved being a part of it. She had, after all, two for-sure Revolutionary War patriots on her own grandmother's side, and that's not counting two more on her grandfather's side that I still need to investigate because they are on the list of DAR's Patriots. So that's potentially four patriots for Grandma Kelly. She would have been so very proud of that. And she would have loved being part of a group of ladies who are interested in their ancestors and work on civic projects. And, she loved to have lunch and listen and talk about history and her community! Yes, she would have just adored the DAR. Sadly, Grandma Kelly didn't know about the DAR and about her ancestors' patriotic past until very late in life but when my Mom told her, she soaked it up!

The question begs asking: can an organization like this be relevant now? I'm thinking that we all believe in the power of people in the community pulling together to help others. We see that within the genealogy community all the time. Here in San Diego, in many ways a military town, there are numerous opportunities to help veterans and their families. But it's just harder to do something really worthwhile for them by yourself except the holiday food drive. And I'm not sure that I would know how to make a difference on my own. I can easily see the greater good in being part of something larger than ones self to help make your community a better place.

So let's float this: is patriotism relevant today? Maybe some people don't have time to even consider this question due to their busy lives. I get that too. But after September 11th, 2001 I never once went back to taking my country for granted. It means something to me. And to be honest, having ancestral lines that go back to the very beginning here feels great. (Not that I'm not equally proud of my recent immigrant ancestors too. They struggled and overcame as well.)

My impression is that things have changed at the DAR, changed with the times and probably for the better. I think I read somewhere that the NSDAR has recently enjoyed a mini boom in inquiries due to their online presence and the wonderful Ancestor Search portal to the patriot listings, which you can access here. You can use it to find out if your ancestor is already listed as one of their Patriots. Just pick an ancestor you think might have been alive during the Revolutionary War and plug in the surname to get instant gratification! And here's a look at the search page, below. It's super easy to use, as you can see.

Check it out. Go ahead, just plug in a surname and see what happens. Maybe you too have an ancestor who is listed? I run all of the ancestors through this search engine if they were born anywhere near 20 to 30 years before that 1776 date. And remember, some were older and served, some paid a tax in support, and some took a loyalty oath so be inclusive with your ancestor list. And don't forget the little drummer boys too! (Was that actually a thing? I think so.) The American Revolution took a lot of support from a lot of people. Don't forget the ladies because they served as well. Do remember that not all who might qualify are already listed so you could be the first to get your patriot approved. That would be exciting!

I simply can not imagine Grandma using a laptop, although once I did see her in a pants suit. I have to tell you, that was real shocking!

OK, I know that not all the DAR ladies are toting laptops and smart phones and multitasking. There are some who are maybe 30 or 40 years in and are proud that they don't use email. At all. Ever. I get that, and have to say I respect it too. It's real nice when people aren't "run" by their electronic devices. And what genealogical society doesn't have members of long standing that aren't on the email list? Yeah, I don't think my Grandma would have embraced the social network that drives portions of my life. She just loved sitting in her dining room in the corner at the telephone stand talking on the black rotary phone. If we don't respect those who have gone before us, what have we got? I just love the most senior of the DAR ladies for all that they have done. They paved the way.

Another thing that might be different about today's DAR, although I really don't know, is that everyone is so upbeat and kind and energetic. Maybe it was always like that but as I say, I really don't know because I'm new to all this. But I can't even imagine anyone being nicer and more accepting of newcomers. I have the feeling that the pace of the organization now is as swiftly moving as life today itself. I got a feel for just how lovely they are and how willing to help when I lurked on the "Daughters of the American Revolution" Facebook page. Go see for yourself. Here's a recent post there.

DAR Facebook page, recent post. Yeah, it's like that there:)
Find the DAR Facebook page here.

And it's all-inclusive: moms, working women, moms who are working outside the home. And retired ladies like myself too. One woman I got to know at the Meet and Greet worked full time and participated in DAR activities as best she could for a bunch of years before she was able to work full DAR chapter participation into her schedule.

And one last thing. Do you remember back when there were rumors and stories about the DAR being elitist? Very exclusive? No? I don't either but I think there might have been an issue back in the 1950s but there were a lot of issues about many aspects of life back in the 1950s and 1960s. Everyone learned and grew in spirit, and that's as it should be.

I have the feeling that it might be a changing world out there in DAR land where tradition is kept and honored while finding modern ways to "be" in the world. And if you think you might like to be a part of it, all you have to do is let them know and you'll get all the help you need.

OK, wanting to help everyone is very much like my Grandma!! Yup, she would have loved it.

Mom and Dad, Grandpop Kelly with Grandma Kelly on the right.
Frostburg, Allegany, Maryland, 1942.

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