An Incredible Journey

It has been an honor serving as your President General these past three years. Today is, of course, bittersweet as I officially transition into my new role as Honorary President General. There is a wonderful Dr. Seuss quote that comes to mind on this occasion: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

I will be smiling today and I will keep the happiness that I’ve experienced in these three years for the rest of my life. For the past 46 years, you, my DAR family, have given me such joy and love that I can never fully express how much it means to me.

Sharing this blog with you has been one of my favorite roles as your President General. It was 1,085 days ago that we first launched the President General’s Blog and we included my welcome remarks from the 119th Continental Congress installation ceremony. Today, I would like to share this video with you of my farewell remarks:

In my 350th and final blog post, I bid you adieu. Thank you, readers, for going on this incredible journey with me.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Inspired by a Moving National Defense Night

2upNational Defense Night is always inspiring and emotional for me and this year was no different! As we begin our partnership with the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, we recognized Major General Claude “Mick” Kicklighter to whom we presented a donation for the commemoration as we pledge to hold two events per year during 2015-2017.

Each of our award recipients gave such heartfelt remarks. VADM Braun offered wonderful insight into the role of women in our Armed Forces. The best part of the night for me was recognizing Lt Col Jennifer Minus, (ret.) with the Margret Cochran Corbin Award. We were able to keep the award a surprise, and Jennifer was beyond shocked. Jennifer has given so much during her years of service to the US Army and to the DAR.

I am so pleased that DAR has honored these people who do such outstanding work for our service personnel and veterans. The National Society continues to be a backbone of support for our military and for a strong national defense.

I also want to add special congratulations to the Outstanding Veteran Volunteer Ernest Conner, Outstanding Youth Volunteer Melissa Gavila and Outstanding DAR Member Volunteer Brigitte van den Hove-Smith of the Big Cypress Chapter. We focus a great deal, and rightly so, on the enormous sacrifices made by military service personnel and veterans. The volunteers who faithfully support our heroes often go without thanks, and I am honored that DAR is able to highlight their accomplishments and bring much deserved attention to them.

Today we will vote for the candidates for Executive Office, Vice President General and Honorary Vice President General and we will continue to hear the reports of the State Regents and National Chairmen during the morning and afternoon business sessions.

I am looking forward to stopping by the Vice Presidents General Club Breakfast where we will celebrate the 60th birthday of the Club and the Junior Luncheon, where we will recognize the 50th anniversary of the Outstanding Junior Contest and the 75th anniversary of the Helen Pouch Memorial Fund. These are such great milestones and I am thrilled to participate since I joined as a Junior 46+ years ago.

Tonight we will hold the Gala Awards Banquet at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, the Congress hotel for 2014-2019. This event will be a celebration of the successes of Wright Administration and we will recognize some outstanding award winners and introduce our newly elected Executive Officers, Vice Presidents General and Honorary Vice President General. The past three years have been filled with such great achievements for our Society and we simply could not have done it without all of the hard work and dedication of our members and staff. I hope you all will enjoy this wonderful evening which is sure to be memorable.

Also – the DAR Library lay light video from Opening Night is now available on the DAR youtube page. I hope you will watch the video again and share it with those who were unable to join us on Wednesday.

Posted in Congress

Enhancing the Present and Investing in the Future With Our Education Award Winners

2upLast evening’s Education Awards Night was truly inspirational. It was wonderful to see young people so excited about history and focused on being active citizens of their communities and our great nation. I also enjoyed hearing about our thriving DAR Schools and the excellent progress these young people are making. Last evening we announced that this year DAR has given $759,353 to the six approved schools!  I am looking forward to hearing more about the DAR Schools during their supper this evening.

Today’s morning and afternoon business sessions will be filled with the reports of the State Regents and the National Chairmen. The work of our states and committees, from the chapter level all the way up to the national level, is really the heart of the mission of the DAR. Learning about what the committees and states have accomplished over the past year is one of the most important aspects of Continental Congress. Also I have found these reports to be very beneficial to those in attendance; this is an ideal place to find new ideas for your own chapter and state, just as I have done as I have traveled to every state this past three years. In addition, we will be voting on the Bylaws amendments this afternoon.

It will be wonderful to see new and long-time friends today when I visit the Northwest Breakfast, State Vice Regents Club Luncheon, Georgia Luncheon, Golden West Tea and the Northeast Division Social.

I’m sure this evening’s National Defense Night will be moving as always. We have so many worthy award recipients and speakers that I am looking forward to welcome to Constitution Hall. We will be presenting the Medal of Honor to Fletcher Gil, for his work with Luke’s Wings. This organization does outstanding work for our wounded warriors. When these men and women are recovering in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, Luke’s Wings provides travel to their families so that they are able to join them in their time of need. I will be pleased to present many other awards tonight as well. Our keynote speaker for the evening will be Vice Admiral Robin Braun, US Navy. VADM Braun serves as the  Chief of Navy Reserve and Navy Reserve Force Commander, and in this role she is the first woman to lead any Reserve component of the military. She is also one of only five female Naval aviators to ever reach the flag officer ranks. I am interested in learning more about her groundbreaking work with the US Navy and am eager welcoming her to Continental Congress.

Posted in Congress

An Entertaining Opening Night and Looking Forward to Education Awards Night

I hope everyone enjoyed last evening’s Opening Night Ceremony as much as I did. Mr. Keno and Mr. Little were both so entertaining and it was a pleasure to honor them. Mr. Keno offered a wonderful discussion of a few of our museum objects and all of the items he mentioned are on display in the period rooms. In the below slideshow there are photos of the items and where you can find them in the DAR Museum. I hope you will take time while you are at Headquarters to view these beautiful pieces up close.

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I want to congratulate the 2013 Outstanding Junior, Sandra Jo Raz La Vigne! The Outstanding Junior Contest exists to recognize members who are 35 years old or younger who devote themselves to DAR with service that is above and beyond, while also balancing the demands of families, homes, careers and other civic and religious service. As a 16-year member of DAR, Sandra has served as chapter regent, chapter officer and chapter chairman. At the state level, she has served as page, delegate, chairman and vice chairman. At the national level, Sandra has served as a page and delegate at Congress. She has provided senior leadership to the C.A.R. at the society, state and regional levels. Sandra has volunteered with various organizations, including her church, Girl Scouts, UT Arlington, Habitat for Humanity and the Fort Worth Meachum History of Aviation Museum. We are so happy to honor her. Congratulations to all winners at the chapter, state and national levels.

Today begins our business sessions of Continental Congress, with the reports from the Executive Officers and administrative committees. Because there is no business session this afternoon, many of the elegant teas and social events are being held today. I will be dropping by many of these events as well as attending the New York Luncheon and Founders Club Dinner.

The Patriotism Forum will be held today at the JW Marriott. I am so pleased that these meetings have gone so well. Members are finding that these forums are educational and motivating and easier to attend.

During this evening’s Education Awards Night we will feature the national winners of the DAR essay contests and hear them read portions of their essays, as well as honor the DAR Good Citizen winner, the American History Scholarship winner and the Outstanding Teacher of American History. It is always thrilling to honor these individuals who are Enhancing the Present and Investing in the Future!

If you won’t be able to join us at Constitution Hall, be sure to watch on Congress Online.

Posted in Congress

Looking Forward to Opening Night of the 122nd Continental Congress

Yesterday was busy and it seems like I would never get to bed! From the dedications and special events to the social events, luncheons and teas, I didn’t stop moving all day and I enjoyed every minute of it! I gain so much energy from interacting with all of our wonderful members.

Today will be another busy day, which starts out greeting Heritage Club members during their brunch. I will be stopping by many other events throughout the day including the National Defense Luncheon, the Texas Tea and the Indiana Tea among others.

If you are in Washington, DC for Congress, be sure to attend the Committee Forums today. The History Forum will be held at the JW Marriott and the Membership and Administration Forum will be at DAR Headquarters. I heard yesterday’s Education Forum was extremely successful and I am sure today’s will be no different.

My family has arrived even though some will be unable to attend. I am anticipating this evening with the official call to order of the 122nd Continental Congress. Tonight, we will welcome over 3,500 DAR members and guests to our beautiful DAR Constitution Hall at our Opening Night Ceremonies. During the evening, our keynote speaker will be antique expert, Leigh Keno, who will receive the Historic Preservation Recognition Award. Mr. Keno will offer a discussion of some of our exceptional DAR Museum objects which are on display in the period rooms. Leigh is best known as one of the stars of Antiques Roadshow and less known as having been reared in my own Mohawk Valley of New York State. Our other award winner of the evening will be well-known comedian, Rich Little, the DAR Americanism Medal recipient.  In addition, this evening we will have the presentation of all 2013 State Outstanding Junior Members culminating with announcing the 2013 National Winner. I so enjoy recognizing these outstanding young women who give so much to the Society and their local communities and who are our future leaders.

I am sure today will be informative and exciting for everyone and tonight will be an entertaining evening. If you won’t be in D.C. with us tonight, I encourage you to watch the Opening Night ceremony on Congress Online.

Posted in Congress

DAR Dedication Day!

As Daughters arrive from all over the world today for the 122nd Continental Congress, many Congress events and activities are beginning and I am so honored to welcome over 3,500 members to our beautiful DAR Headquarters.

P1090650editYesterday was an emotional day. During the National Board of Management meeting, the Wright Administration Officers and appointees presented me with a gift of beautiful scrapbooks from the past three years. They also gave me two beautiful bound books, one of all of the posts and photos from the President General’s blog and the other of Administration highlights. I will so enjoy having these keepsakses they put together for me. Then I was really surprised when my dear friend and “clock doc,” Vance Johnson walked in! He was there to help present a Birge & Fuller steeple clock to me and explain the history of it. This clock was made circa 1845 in Connecticut. Birge & Fuller were known for making steeple clocks with a variation of movements. What makes this clock different is  that it is powered by a leaf or wagon spring which is securely mounted to the bottom of the clock case. When this clock is wound, the winding arbor draws on a cord that pulls on a cast iron hoist which is connected to a cast iron lever that tensions the leaf spring. This mechanical iron work makes the clock very costly to produce which is why there was a limited number of these made, therefore, today it is increasingly difficult to find an example of this type of clock. Thank you so much to all of the Wright Executives for these wonderful gifts. The Executives then further surprised me with a trip to Norway for Larry and me! I’ve wanted to return there since I was an American Field Service Exchange Student.

1Today we began celebrating the achievements of the past three years by dedicating several accomplishment preconditions of the Wright Administration. All of these projects have been so important to DAR and I am thrilled to have seen them to completion. These ceremonies include the Dedication of the Wright Administration Plaque and this President General’s portrait as well as the Dedication of the beautiful Lay light and the Lay Light Recognition Plaque. Other dedications today are for the Digital Donor Wall and the Florida Drive, formerly the D Street ramp of Constitution Hall, which was generously restored with funds from the Florida Daughters. You could call today “DAR Dedication Day!”

I will also be attending the Gift Acceptance Ceremony this afternoon. The opportunity to thank our donors and accept physical gifts of books, maps, redecoration of period rooms, museum objects and other physical gifts in person is a tremendous honor. Gifts to be recognized will include the refurbished of the DAR Library chandeliers and sconces by the Georgia State Society and a mahogany sideboard made by Elbert Anderson Sr. of New York City, circa 1790–1800.

Remember today is the first Committee Forum at the JW Marriott. This forum will focus on Education and I am sure each chairman will give a very informative and lively presentation about her committee. These meetings are designed to be flexible, so attendees may come and go, attending specific presentations as they wish. You are welcome to attend just one section or stay for as many presentations as your interests, and your personal schedule during Continental Congress, allow.

I am so thrilled to visit with California, Florida, Missouri, Illinois and South Carolina Daughters this afternoon and evening during their state social events. I also have plans to stop by the National Vice Chairman’s event and the State Regents Club event – which is said to be “galatic!”

Posted in Congress

Congress Week is Officially Upon Us!

P1090605I am honored to be presiding over the 122nd Continental Congress, my 44th consecutive Congress and the final Congress as your President General. Our Congresses have changed a great deal since I began attending and I believe we have a lot to look forward to this week. I hope all members at this year’s national annual meeting will be invigorated by the events this week.

Final preparations are being made around the building and in Constitution Hall. As you can tell from the Congress Schedule, many events this year are being held at the JW Marriott in order to accommodate the number of people at each meeting, but there is still a lot happening here at DAR Headquarters.

P1090610_cropThis morning Registration officially opens as members begin to arrive at the building. Today there are important meetings here, including the Incoming State Regents’ Orientation, the National Board of Management meeting, the National Officers Club Annual meeting and many meetings of the Congress Committees. I am sure each of these will be informative and productive.

I hope you will keep checking the blog this week for Congress updates, behind-the-scenes peeks and photos. This may be the busiest week of my year, but I want to make sure you are updated on everything that is happening at Congress.

I encourage those of you who cannot join us in the Nation’s Capital to follow the events at the Congress Online website. Photo slideshows and downloadable copies of the Congress Herald illustrate a great deal of what happens during Congress. The live video stream of the sessions in Constitution Hall will allow you to see everything on the stage, including the important reports and business discussed during the day as well as the gala ceremonies, speeches, award presentations and entertainment in the evenings. The live feed of the sessions begins on Wednesday evening and will go through Congress, but will not include the Saturday night banquet because it is being held at an off-site location.

This evening the National Officers Club will have its annual banquet where all who have been on the National Board of Management reunite in our dedicated purpose to serve DAR. It will be good to see these long-time friends.

Posted in Uncategorized

Final Preparations for Continental Congress

Set up for Continental Congress has begun throughout our DAR Headquarters buildings and it is exciting to see all that we have worked so hard to prepare come to life. I am anxious to welcome Daughters to Washington, D.C. for what is sure to be a wonderful week. Our pre-registration numbers are extremely high this year and that is so exciting!

I believe it is very important to take time at Continental Congress to learn more about our Society and what you can not only receive from it but also bring to it. I encourage you to attend all of the informative business sessions where you will learn about the important work that our states and committees have accomplished over the past year. Also, please be sure to attend the new, informative Committee Forums! Remember you can come and go during these educational events as you please. I can also promise that you won’t want to miss the exciting evening ceremonies where we will honor a number of outstanding speakers and award recipients. I am pleased to tell you our keynote speaker for National Defense Night will be Vice Admiral Robin Braun, US Navy. VADM Braun is the chief of the Navy Reserves, and is the first woman in any of the military branches to serve in this capacity. I am sure she will be a outstanding speaker!

Be sure to explore all there is to see at DAR Headquarters this week including the Americana Collection, the DAR Museum period rooms as well as the special exhibition, “Fashioning the New Woman: 1890-1925” and the DAR Library. Also beginning Wednesday, in the DAR Library balcony, there will be Volunteer Research Genealogists available to assist those needing help with their research. Please stop by and take advantage of this useful resource.

On Sunday, after church with the Wright Executive Officers, I will be attending the reunion of the Calvin Executives reunion, as well as the 50th Annual Dinner and Meeting of the Executive Club. I am so thrilled for this milestone for the Executive Club. All of these events will be filled with catching up with long-time friends.

Before you travel to Washington, D.C. remember to peruse the Congress announcements and utilize the resources found on the Continental Congress section of the Members’ Website. I look forward to greeting all of you soon!

Posted in Congress, News, Reminders

The Wide Blue Sash

Wide_Blue_smallerWhat a thrill it was to receive the first copy of our newest DAR publication, The Wide Blue Sash, the biographies of our 42 Presidents General and our Founders. In the works for many years, it was finally finished in March and is hot off the presses! This beautiful book looks at the background, character, leadership and accomplishments of the women who have served the National Society as President General. It is so interesting to read through this volume and reflect on the legacies of these 42 women and to remember the exceptional contributions that each of them made to the National Society. The Wide Blue Sash also gives the biography of each of our four founders and our only President Presiding, Mary Virginia Ellet Cabell.

The idea for this project came about many years ago, but the book was slow in coming to fruition. During this time, Lanette Reid graciously began research on the past Presidents General. Last year when the project resumed, Mrs. Reid generously donated her research and writings, which helped those in the Office of the Historian General to begin their research.

One of the things that is evident about these women is how diligently each of them worked to improve the Society and how earnestly they loved DAR and our Country. It has been such an honor to follow in the footsteps of such inspirational individuals who have led our Society.

An interesting tidbit I learned from browsing through the book is when Mrs. Caroline Scott Harrison, our first President General and wife of then-U.S. President Benjamin Harrison, addressed the first Continental Congress in 1892, it was the first public speech ever given by a First Lady. What an interesting piece of DAR history!

Thank you so much to the Historian General and her staff for compiling such a beautiful book. The Wide Blue Sash will be available for $10.00 from the DAR Store during Continental Congress.

Posted in Americana Collection, National Board of Management, News, Publications

Continental Congress Reminders

We are quickly approaching the 122nd Continental Congress and I am sure many of you are as busy finalizing your schedules as I am for the week of events. I thought it might be helpful to pass along some reminders for your arrival at DAR Headquarters.

  • Since so many events are sold out, we are expecting an increased number of attendees at Congress this year. It would help for members to be aware that registration lines may be long at times and there will likely be added crowds around Congress activities.
  • In any spare time you may have, I hope you will explore DAR Headquarters and see all of our new additions. As you know, the DAR Library lay light is now completely repaired. Please stop by to see the beautiful glass ceiling which you helped restore.
  • The new Digital Donor Wall, which is both beautiful and an amazing piece of technology, has been installed and will be dedicated on Tuesday, June 25.
  •  The current DAR Museum exhibition, “Fashioning the New Woman: 1890-1925” is such a beautiful display of the shift in women’s fashion coinciding with the shift in women’s roles in society.
  • Another new project at Headquarters has been to make the DAR buildings more “green.” At the recommendation of the Conservation Committee and supported by the Executive Committee various decisions have been made which help DAR Headquarters move toward this environmental goal. Many updates have been made to operations to facilitate this endeavor and one of the most noticeable to visitors is the installation of new hand dryers in the restrooms. These new dryers have cut down immensely on our use of paper products and keep the restrooms cleaner. Please be aware these are now available in many of the restrooms throughout Headquarters in place of paper towels. Another “green” update has been the addition of energy efficient light bulbs and light timers, which turn off the lights when they have not been in use for a certain length of time. All of these additions to our Headquarters help us conserve our resources and “Invest in the Future!”
  • Please keep in mind that because of the time of the year and challenges of a historic building, sometimes temperatures can fluctuate in different parts of Headquarters. I always say it is a good idea to wear layers and have a sweater handy!
  • Remember that on Saturday night the evening ceremony will not be held at Constitution Hall. The Gala Awards Banquet will take place at the Grand Hyatt, the new Congress hotel for 2014-2019.
  • Be sure to check the electronic version the 122nd Contiental Congress Schedule for the most up to date version.
  • Visit the Congress Shops in the renovated lower level of Constitution Hall as well as, the DAR Store and the DAR Museum Shop for terrific gifts and other special items.

I am looking forward to welcoming all of you to our “House Beautiful” and hope these reminders will help make your visit to DAR Headquarters for Continental Congress an enjoyable one!

Posted in Congress