Pictured during Opening Night in the Mississippi Box at NSDAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., are Hellen Polk of Starkville, left, and Polly Grimes of Aberdeen. Polk is the Mississippi Society Daughters of the American Revolution first vice regent and Hic-A-Sha-Ba-Ha Chapter delegate. Grimes is the National Society DAR past vice president general and Mississippi Society honorary state regent. Photo by: Courtesy photo
August 19, 2017 10:27:36 PM
Hellen Polk of Starkville spent the days just before July 4 last month immersed in patriotism in Washington, D.C. She represented the Starkville-based Hic-A-Sha-Ba-Ha Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, as well as the Mississippi State Society DAR at the 126th national Continental Congress. Polk was among more than 3,500 DAR members from across the country at the week-long congress that included keynote speaker retired NASA Flight Director Eugene Kranz.
"When you go to the Continental Congress, you are with women from diverse backgrounds, from age 18 to in their 90s, who all share the same interest in 'God, Home and Country' -- the DAR motto," said Polk. "We're all so different, but that is what holds us together, that and the service that our ancestors provided to our country."
The national meeting of members has been a time-honored tradition since the organization was founded in 1890. This was Polk's fourth time to attend.
The convention's opening night put a spotlight on the upcoming 250th anniversary of the United States in 2026 and the leading role DAR will play in preparations. DAR Honorary President Gen. Lynn Forney Young was recently appointed to the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission. The DAR also announced the first major, patriotic investment in the commemoration -- a donation to Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, of 76 trees planted in honor of the Spirit of '76 that inspired the colonists to declare their independence.
In a week of business sessions, committee meetings and award presentations, there is also ceremony.
"It's such a patriotic event," said Polk, citing highlights that included military bands. "The Marine Band, the Army Band, the Air Force Band ... they played several nights as people are getting in, and that in itself is fantastic. There's a lot of pomp and circumstance and flags coming in. ... It's just a moving experience to be with that many women who are leaders and who are service oriented."
In a press release, DAR President Gen. Ann T. Dillon remarked, "We are grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the hard work and accomplishments of the past year, including the donation of hundreds of thousands of dollars to preservation, education and patriotic endeavors and the contribution of millions of hours of volunteer service in our communities. ... The energy that results from more than 3,500 dedicated DAR members gathering in one place never fails to produce inspiration, creative breakthroughs and true camaraderie."
DAR members are descended from the patriots who won American independence during the Revolutionary War. It is one of the world's largest and most active service organizations.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.