Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Not Your Grandmother's DAR! (or is it?)

Nellie Blanche Everitt Gillette was my grandmother.  She was also a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution for over 50 years, joining in 1943.  A decade ago I decided to honor her by joining the DAR.  Being almost 95 years old when this occured, she had very little capability to tell me about the organization or her participation in it.  I did not know much about it either, but that did not matter.  It was only going to be a gesture.  One story that was shared was by the pins that she bestowed upon me right before her death.  They told of her years as a state officer and her dedication to serving at Continental Congress.  They showed her ancestors and her chapter, which is now non-existent.  Much must have happened that I can only imagine.  Over the years, friends in my state who knew her have shared stories, photos, and newspaper clippings.  They have begun to piece together the image of the DAR woman that I never knew.  Here is a photo that a friend shared with me of my grandmother and other members of the state board of Pennsylvania during the 1960s. 

My grandmother is the tallest one in the picture in the back center.
When I became eighteen, she urged me to register to vote.  She would tell me of a time when her mother earned the right to vote.  This is a picture of her mother, Nannie.
My great-grandmother who earned the right to vote in 1920.
Seeing women's suffrage first hand stirred my grandmother to become an active citizen.  Being a United States citizen during both World War I and World War II, I imagine she loved the DAR because of its patriotism and power for women.  

So, how is today's DAR different from my grandmother's DAR?  In some ways it is the same.  We are still women, trying to express our voice in America.  We try to make a difference in our communities around us.  We continue to support historical preservation, patriotism, and education.  What really makes the difference between her DAR and my DAR is the power that women have gained as equals to men in our society and the way we express it.  I am proud to be female.  Proud to be a working mother of two.  Proud to be equipped with the knowledge to be independent.  Proud to feel free to pursue whatever career I want...or don't want.  Really, it is all about the freedom I have.  This allows me to do so much more for my world around me.  The DAR gives me a platform to serve, and serve I do.  I have volunteered at my local Veteran's hospital handing out bags of treats and toiletries.  After the recent tsunami in Japan, I collected and mailed toys and supplies for children there.  Organizing donations for our current military overseas, I have thanked our soldiers.  Several Saturdays have been spent cleaning up a local cemetery.  Leading memorial services for our veterans during Memorial Day has been an honor.  Sending care packages to the children at the DAR Schools has been a joy.  I am powerful!  Powerful to change the world around me into a better place.  I know I am changing the world for my children because they observe everything that I do and model their behavior after me.  I have an obligation to be a good citizen in front of them.  
“Good citizens cannot be made suddenly. They must grow...” Harriett Lothrop             
So, Today's DAR is so much more than when my grandmother was a member.  It is because of our members' dedication and the freedoms that we have to serve so extensively.  We DO things and are active.  We love our world and plan to make it a better place everyday.

I am glad I jumped blindly into this organization just to honor my grandmother.  What a wonderful surprise I have found. 


  1. Congratulations on your blog. I just started one, too at your post is lovely and the sufferage caption and family hisory you posted makes me proud to be a DAR daughter, too.

  2. This was a wonderful post. I am WI DAR and would like our group to be more involved in project like those you've brought up. One thing I have started doing and inviting group members to do is to attend the welcome home celebrations for the WWII Vets. I will be attending one tomorrow. Thank you for reminding me why I joined the DAR.