Reflections from the Chaplain General

Written by: Pamela Wright, Chaplain General
May 24, 2019

As a high school student, I dreamed of joining DAR. When I finally joined, as a Junior member, my grandmother dreamed that I would one day have the honor of serving as the chaplain at any level; for her, chaplain was the only position with great purpose. Fast forward many years, the opportunity to serve as Chaplain General under the leadership of Ann Turner Dillon came my way. What a dream it has been!

My first official speaking engagement as Chaplain General was at the 69th Annual DAR Service at the Cathedral of the Pines in New Hampshire. The beauty of the outdoor cathedral was breathtaking. Thank you to the New Hampshire Daughters for their kind hospitality, especially State Regent Wendy Stanley Jones and family.

Sending more than 800 birthday greetings annually to members 90 and 100+ years old has been a delight. Thank you to the chapter chaplains and other members who requested the greetings for these special Daughters. Would you believe we have more than 8,000 members aged 90 and above? Please get to know these ladies and learn what made them join DAR; and more important, what made them remain a Daughter? You or your chapter might also consider helping with dues for those who may need assistance.

One highlight of my term in office was sharing the great idea of the Mecklenburg Chapter, North Carolina, concerning the disposition of DAR insignia and other property upon a member’s passing. The “Wishes Concerning DAR Membership” (Form NSDAR – 2000) was created and should be completed so that family members will fully understand your desires. The form may be found at the very bottom of the quick links on the right side of the Chaplain General’s section of the members-only website.

Also during the Dillon Administration, we introduced use of a phrase common with U.S. Armed Forces prayer introductions: “I invite you to pray in your faith and tradition as I pray in mine.” Members, being considerate of their fellow Daughters’ experiences during DAR ceremonies, have asked whether it is appropriate to pray in Jesus’s name if you identify as a Christian. Members may pray in the name of Jesus if they identify as a Christian, or members may refrain from praying in the Christian faith if that is not their tradition. A chapter may choose to refrain from praying at DAR ceremonies altogether. Our organization is rooted in Christian traditions but it is also very important to recognize and respect that while all DAR members share ancestors who contributed to securing America’s independence, we do not all share the same spiritual beliefs. Good manners and sincere kindness should guide our acceptance, and treatment toward, women of all faiths.

We were delighted to add a “Quick Access to DAR Ceremonies” resource on the right side of the Chaplain General’s page of the members-only website so that members may print individual ceremonies, rituals and prayers for use at DAR events; these can also be placed into a binder for convenient, hardcopy access. The section even includes a Ritual Cover Template that a chapter may use to create its own chapter Ritual.

Conducting NSDAR religious projects and activities; preparing prayers for Continental Congress, and both Executive Committee and National Board of Management meetings; readying devotions for the DAR Schools Tour; coordinating the 103rd annual wreath-laying at the Tomb of George and Martha Washington at Mount Vernon; and the 97th wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery are just a few of the incredible privileges of this office. Heartfelt thanks to DC Daughter Jo Carol Porter for arranging our wonderful stay in the Quarters at Mount Vernon in October. Walking the estate at night and watching the beautiful sunrise on the Potomac will always be fond memories. Attending the Margaret Corbin Monument Rededication at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point was another moving experience. Thank you, New York Daughters, for an incredible weekend.

Representing DAR at the Houston repose of Barbara Pierce Bush, former First Lady of the United States and D.C. Daughter, in April 2018 was a special privilege for this Texan. Joining other Executive Officers at the Capitol Rotunda to pay respect to former President George H. W. Bush in December 2018 was also certainly a once-in-a-lifetime honor.

Chairing the Continental Congress Memorial Service Committee has been the highlight of every year due to the hard work of the national vice chairs. The beautiful music provided by some of our talented Daughters was inspiring. The state chaplains, committee members and Pages all worked hard to make each ceremony meaningful.

Serving with Diane Wright, National Chair, Property Beautification and Hospitality Committee, has been a lot of fun. Choosing ribbon and ornaments for the Christmas decorations in our beautiful building complex was a delightful responsibility. The volunteers who make the decorations come to life for the Christmas Open House are amazing. Many heartfelt thanks, also, to the committee members who prepare the lunches during our Executive Committee weeks. Special thanks to Martina Caputy and Kay Titus for assisting with my formal executive lunch, a Taste of Texas. We recreated the menu used in my own chapter, Lady Washington, when I was a Junior at our annual Juniors’ Tasting Luncheon to raise money for the Helen Pouch Memorial Fund

Serving as executive liaison to the Americanism (Cindy Parnell, National Chair); Community Classroom (Linda Winthers, National Chair); Community Service Awards (Kay Yarbrough, National Chair); and National Defense (Julia Rogers, National Chair), committees has been rewarding. The talented National Chairs of these committees moved the Society forward with new ideas and enthusiasm.

A special personal achievement was completing the New Horizons course and joining the first graduating class of Texas! I carry my gold graduation cord with my pins. 

This officer has no staff, but she does have the talent of Edith Rianzares, Director, Office of Printing and Publication. Edith is the angel who turns rough drafts of the Memorial Service program, birthday cards, etc. into beautiful publications. Lee Thorson, Assistant to the President General, distributes the death notices of current and past members of the National Board of Management to the current National Board of Management.

It would be impossible to list the many names of members and staff who have been so important to this officer over the past three years, but please know that you are in my heart. Thank you for the many gracious invitations to attend state conferences and other meetings. I have loved meeting you, getting to know your membership and listening to your projects. This officer regrets she could not accept every invitation due to her work schedule.

Heartfelt thanks to the Texas Daughters for their love and loyalty in all endeavors. I wish the next Chaplain General the same dream I have had – one full of friendship, fellowship and fun. What a privilege to serve with Ann Turner Dillon and her Executive Committee! I know my grandmother is dancing in Heaven!

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