After a few days in the office, I flew from Washington on May 1st to the Raleigh-Durham, NC area for the 114th North Carolina Conference, Peggy Carney Troxell, State Regent. With a theme of “From the Mountains to the Sea; Celebrating our Rich North Carolina History” each event featured the unique geography and history of the area including the mountains, Piedmont and the coastal region of the beautiful state. Other guests included Alabama State Regent Connie Grund, Mississippi State Regent Billie Breedlove, Oklahoma State Regent Pat McFall, Oregon State Regent Ellen Hopkins, and Tennessee State Regent Susan Thomas. Special guests included Honorary Presidents' General Presley Wagoner and Merry Ann Wright. It was such fun to be reunited with these outstanding leaders as we had served as Pages together.
Peggy’s theme is “With Hearts and Hands Together; Making a difference for DAR” and her two part project is restoration of the 1810 chandeliers in the North Carolina period room and sponsoring the math and science room at the Tamassee Academy in memory of Rolfe Teague, Past Curator General.
Following the State Officers’ Club dinner Thursday evening at which Dr. Christopher M. Armitage, Professor of English Literature at UNC Chapel Hill, shared an amusing and educational lecture on Sir Walter Raleigh, we attended the Welcome reception. The cake was a work of art – a topographical map of North Carolina and much too pretty to cut.
Friday morning began with the State Chairman’s Club Breakfast. With a meal option of French toast or grits, I made the mistake of mentioning to Peggy that it was hard to decide which entrée to choose as I love both. Imagine my surprise when I was served a huge bowl of grits to accompany the French toast!
Several educational forums were held and I enjoyed learning about “The Battle of King’s Mountain and the Over the Mountain Men” by Dr. Daniel McMahan and “Beechland and the Lost Colony” by Philip S. McMullan, Jr. Continuing the emphasis on education, the DAR School Luncheon featured representatives of four of the DAR schools. The clever centerpieces were books which would be donated to the schools.
The conference opened Friday afternoon with over 300 members and guests. After reports of the State Officers, I had the opportunity to express appreciation for the financial support of more than 100 donors at the Heritage and Founders Clubs tea.
We enjoyed a delicious banquet that evening, after which we reconvened in the ballroom. In my address that evening, it was a pleasure to share some of the initiatives and accomplishments of the Young Administration. The band Puddingstone performed with a combination of ancient, acoustic and electronic instruments. The vocalist, Denise Baxter-Yoder, was extraordinary and the music was unique and beautiful with member Suzanne Williams playing the flute. The last piece was a rousing rendition of “I’ll Fly Away” which had all of us tapping our toes. The evening concluded with the Junior and Page Club Ice Cream social.
The luncheon on Saturday featured awards including the American History Medal to Randell Wallace for his books on Boone’s trail which was marked by DAR members 100 years ago, America History essay contest winners and the DAR Good Citizen. One of the most touching awards was the Outstanding Service to Veterans Award, received by Ginny Powers. Not only is she State Librarian, she volunteers seven days a week at the Fayetteville Veterans Hospital participating in a program which ensures no veteran dies alone. Ginny has served over 6,000 hours serving those who bravely served us. She received a letter from President Obama in which he wrote “Thank you for your devotion to service and for doing all you can to shape a better tomorrow for our great Nation.”
While the conference continued, the guests were treated to a private tour of the Executive Mansion in Raleigh, home of each of North Carolina’s Governors since completion in 1891. DAR Member and Mansion docent Larry Hines gave us wonderful visit to the home and gardens, then invited us to have lemonade and cookies in the parlor. Imagine my surprise to discover this eagle podium, very similar to NSDAR’s which has been used in many Presidential Inauguration luncheons!
Following the banquet on Saturday night, Author and Filmmaker Kevin Duffus gave a delightful presentation on the last days of Blackbeard the Pirate. The conference guests brought greetings and we enjoyed hearing about the North Carolina/Oklahoma membership challenge. With a friendly competition to see which state had the highest percentage net gain by application, Oklahoma gained 15.7% and North Carolina gained 13.4%. Both states were winners!
Peggy presented each guest with a proclamation from the Governor naming us Honorary Tar Heels. The nickname “Tar Heels” comes from the principle products during the early history of North Carolina, tar, pitch, and turpentine. It was during one of the fiercest battles of the War Between the States, so the story goes, that the column supporting the North Carolina troops was driven from the field. After the battle the North Carolinians, who had successfully fought it out alone, were greeted from the passing derelict regiment with the question: "Any more tar down in the Old North State, boys?" Quick as a flash came the answer: "No, not a bit, old Jeff's bought it all up." "Is that so; what is he going to do with it?" was asked. "He's going to put on you-un's heels to make you stick better in the next fight." General Lee, upon hearing of the incident, said: "God bless the ‘Tar Heel’ boys,” and from that they took the name.
Having just received the final report of the Celebrate America hours from LeAnn Turbyfill, National Chair, it was exciting to announce that although North Carolina had reported 176,492 hours on the online tally, the final reconciliation indicated they had reported 215,245 hours in 2013!
After the Chorus presentation, we recited the North Carolina State Toast:Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine, The summer land where the sun doth shine, Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great, Here’s to “Down Home,” the Old North State! Here’s to the land of the cotton bloom white, Where the scuppernong performs the breeze at night, Where the soft southern moss and Jessamine mate, ‘Neath the murmuring pines of the Old North State! Here’s to the land where the galax grows, Where the rhodendron’s rosette glows, Where soars Mount Mitchell’s summit great, In the “Land of the Sky,” in the Old North State! Here’s to the land where maidens are fair, Where friends are true and cold hearts rare, The near land, the dear land, whatever fate, The blessed land, the best land, the Old North State!
North Carolina is thriving and has achieved a net gain of almost 1,000 members since 2006. These Daughters have certainly exemplified “With Hearts and Hands Together Making a Difference for DAR!”