DAR holds first virtual convention

Members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) from around the world gathered for their annual convention – but in a historic first, they gathered entirely online for their virtual 129th DAR Continental Congress. This year’s convention conducted its regular business and honored the extensive work of DAR members throughout the year with a new virtual experience in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Participating were Linda Brenner, Regent, and four other members of the Jean Ribault Chapter, which is based in Neptune Beach. Before attending the first virtual congress from home, in light of the present COVID-19 pandemic, the Jean Ribault Chapter produced 7,827 hand-sewn, washable, reversible masks with filters for the local healthcare community and the citizens of Jacksonville under the leadership of Sally Messenger, DAR member and organizer of the Sally Sewers group. In addition to the regular support of historic preservation, education and patriotism activities at Congress, highlights of the 2020 year for the Jean Ribault Chapter include partnering with the Ponte Vedra Chapter for the SS Gulfamerica DAR Dedication Marker and tribute to 19 seamen in Jacksonville Beach.
This year, the Jean Ribault Chapter announced Helen “Leslie” Wilcoxin as its 100th active member. The chapter brought in 21 new members to DAR who all share their lineage to a revolutionary patriot. The chapter honored three members with national recognition. First, Alice Stratton was awarded her 50-year service pin, Women in History designation and the Ellen Hardin Walworth Founder’s Medal for Patriotism. The late Kathleen Feindt-Bailey of The Beaches Leader, and Clarence Hill, retired U.S. Navy, were recognized as DAR Distinguished Citizens. Fourteen DAR Youth Citizenship Medals for local school and one ROTC Medal were also awarded in the community.
Prerecorded video programming for the Opening Night Ceremony on June 24 featured Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch, who was honored with the DAR History Award Medal and provided the keynote remarks. The National Defense Night Ceremony, which aired on June 27, celebrated the nation’s military and veterans, with Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, providing the keynote remarks and receiving the DAR Patriot Award.
“Though we cannot be together in person, we are embracing technology to gather virtually in order to celebrate the success of our society. We are determined that the pandemic will not keep us from fulfilling our important mission,” said President General Denise Doring VanBuren. “Our virtual 129th Continental Congress will not only highlight the outstanding work of our membership over the past year but also allow us to honor worthy Americans who have made significant contributions to our nation and their neighbors.”
The DAR Continental Congress is an annual gathering that has traditionally been held in Washington, D.C., since the organization’s founding in 1890. National, state and chapter leaders, as well as other members from across the country and around the world, gather to report on the year’s work, honor outstanding award recipients, plan future initiatives and reconnect with friends.
The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in 1890 to promote historic preservation, education and patriotism. Its members are descended from the patriots who won American independence during the Revolutionary War. With more than 185,000 members in about 3,000 chapters worldwide, DAR is one of the world’s largest and most active service organizations.
To learn more about the work of today’s DAR, visit www.DAR.org.

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