The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Lake Saint Louis chapter was represented by their regent at the annual DAR National Convention, which took place June 25-30.
The National Convention has been held every year in Washington D.C. since the organizations founding in 1890. Marilyn Hartnett attended for the second time as regent of her local chapter this year.
“I went last year for the first time, and I couldn’t wait to go this time,” Hartnett said. “I am so proud of what the Daughters do. They focus on patriotism, education and historic preservation.”
For the National Convention, local chapters choose delegates who can vote on different business matters and elect new officials. The convention started with a memorial service for members who passed away in the last year, and the week was then filled with business meetings, award ceremonies for the military and schools supported by DAR, and chances to connect with members from other chapters.
The DAR owns a building in Washington D.C. that acts as their headquarters and hosts their annual National Convention.
“It takes up an entire block, and it looks like many of the buildings in Washington D.C, with the columns and so forth, it’s a beautiful, beautiful building,” Hartnett said. Before the convention started, Hartnett, along with around 80 other Missouri members, were able to fly to Philadelphia and hop on some tour buses to visit the Statue of Liberty, 9/11 memorial, George Washington’s famous Delaware crossing, and reached D.C. a day early to visit many of the monuments and memorials there as well.
To join the Daughters of the American Revolution, a woman has to be 18 or older, and must prove a direct bloodline relation to a soldier who fought in the American Revolution.
“We are not a political group and we are not a religious group, we try to keep that out of our activities. We are all Americans, and we need to remember what our revolutionary soldiers fought for and that is our freedom and liberty and for each to choose,” Hartnett said.
The Daughters of the American Revolution has over 300,000 members spread all across the nation in local chapters. The Lake Saint Louis chapter, officially titled the Caroline Close Stuart Chapter, currently has 78 members, with 15 prospective members. Each chapter is lead by a “regent” as well as 10 other elected officials. Each regent then reports to a district director, district directors to a state regent, and at the head of DAR is the national regent referred to as the President General. There are multiple other elected officials who help run things smoothly.
“The national level sets our guidelines, and they have committees for historic preservation, for education, for patriotism. The directions come from national to our state, and then state to our chapters,” explained Hartnett.
The Lake Saint Louis chapter places a heavy emphasis on supporting military people through several programs. Their shroud program ensures that veterans who pass away in a nursing home not just taken out in a black body bag, but instead covered in a patriotic colored cloth and given a small ceremony as they are removed. Another program, “Books and Bears” provides children traveling with the military with a bag that contains a stuffed animal and age appropriate book to help occupy the time.
Daughters also ensure to place wreaths on the gravestones of revolutionary soldiers during Christmas, and hold memorial services on several military related holidays. There are 14 revolutionary soldiers buried in the Lake Saint Louis area.
Another way they serve the community is by helping local schools in educating kids about the constitution and the colonial era. They set up displays featuring books about and dolls dressed for the colonial era, and will even come in costume to talk about life during that time period. The Lake Saint Louis chapter reaches out to 12 different schools, and also offers to place displays in banks or other local businesses.
At the state wide level, the Daughters are working to support and build new “Fisher Houses,” which are homes located near VA hospitals that military families can stay in free of charge should a loved one end up in the hospital for an extended period of time. Chapters host fundraisers to support the state wide project.
Members meet once a month September through May to discuss business and catch up on what fellow members have been doing in their community. Every daughter is asked to participate in community service, and chapters keep track of their hours to report back to national offices. Currently, the Lake Saint Louis chapter has raised $1,937 and has completed 3839 hours of community service since the beginning of 2019.