Visiting the Beehive State

Written by: Lynn Young, President General
May 12, 2015

On Thursday, April 23rd, I departed Houston for Salt Lake City, Utah for the 118th State Conference, Judy Barking, State Regent, where I was warmly greeted by Judy, Vice President General Cindy Toone and my page, Melissa Moon.  After checking into the hotel, we drove a few blocks to Temple Square where I was amazed at the thousands of flowers in bloom around the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The gardens include over 250 flower beds with more than 165,000 bedding plants. After a quick lunch in the Nauvoo Café in the old Hotel Utah, we walked through Temple Square where we were greeted by two young missionaries. They inquired why we were there, and upon learning of our DAR connection, one of the young ladies recalled her high school graduation in Constitution Hall. 

For decades I have longed to visit the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake, the world’s largest genealogy library, in the hope of knocking down a few of my genealogical brick walls. Founded in 1894, the Library is now housed in a state of the art building, erected in 2009.  Greeted by a local DAR member, we watched a short introductory video before our tour.  Each floor has many computers for the patron’s use as well as volunteers eager to offer research assistance. Brenda Reeder, State Vice Regent, visits the Library frequently and provided a tour of each of the floors, introducing me to the large collection of family histories, microfilm and books. With a few minutes to spare, we visited the Cedar County, MO section where I hoped to find the documentation needed on one of my ancestors.  We were not successful in that short time, but I look forward to returning for a longer visit after retirement in 2016.

Returning to the hotel, I welcomed 22 of our generous donors to the President General’s Tea. It was a lovely surprise to see Elaine Schact, a Texas Page, visiting her parents who had returned to Utah a few years ago.

All members and guests were invited to the State Officer’s Club Dinner in which Lt. Col. Brent F. Anderson shared his experience of escorting the remains of a fallen soldier.  We were all deeply touched by his remarks, particularly when he said it was more difficult than fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

After dinner, we attended the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearsal.  What a joy to see the massive pipe organ and to hear the 360 person choir rehearse!  Melissa’s husband, Justin, is a percussionist in the orchestra, and they both were very helpful in explaining the rigorous audition and commitment for choir members.  The acoustics in the Hall were fabulous and it amazed me to hear the conductor stop the rehearsal to correct an individual whose voice who was not quite in sync with the others.

Let’s put it this way – when I was in the church choir during Junior High, the kind choir director suggested I lip sync the words to the familiar hymns.  In college, the director of our sorority choir made the same suggestion.  A few years later the director of a different church choir suggested I start a speaking choir.  I finally took the hint and resigned myself to not singing well on this side of Heaven.  You can imagine what a thrill it was to hear a large choir that really could sing!

It was such a surprise when the conductor welcomed me to the Tabernacle and gave a brief explanation of DAR!  Behind us were two rows of Vietnam Veterans and they were also recognized and warmly applauded.

The activities began Friday with a breakfast for the Juniors and Juniors at heart, followed by the first business session. The first chapter in Utah was organized in 1895 and they now have 426 members in nine chapters. It was an honor to present certificates to each chapter for their support of the President General’s Project. Judy’s theme is “Blooming with Service” and her project supports the Valor House – transition housing for homeless veterans.  Every resident received a Christmas gift from the Utah Daughters.

Past Recording Secretary General Ellen Powley presented protocol minutes at each business session.  My favorite one was a quote from Franklin Roosevelt:  “Be Sincere, be brief, be seated.”  I’ll try to keep that in mind!

Reports were given by state officers and chapter Regents.  It was impressive to learn that the state reimburses the cost of the GEP I for chapter registrars. That explains why their Have Written rate is low! It was amazing to learn the Utah Daughters recorded 45,468 Celebrate America! hours last year – that comes to 107 hours per member of community service!

The room in which the business meetings were held had exhibit tables lining the walls.  I was intrigued by the Home of the Brave Quilt project and I learned that it is a national organization which makes quilts for families of fallen soldiers. Generous Utah Daughters made and personally delivered 45 quilts in Utah in the past year. http://www.homeofthebravequilts.com/

Lunch featured General George Washington (aka Gary L. Van Dolzer) who shared his impressions of our nation in current times along with words of caution to keep our nation strong.

Committee reports were presented in the afternoon. The Utah DAR participated in an impressive 44 naturalization ceremonies last year. The DAR Service for Veterans Committee compiled a cookbook, sales of which benefit the Quilts of Valor, an organization which presents quilts to returning and wounded service members.  http://www.qovf.org/  All members participated in a service project by writing cards of appreciation to our veterans.

At the formal banquet that evening, an Americanism Award was presented to James Poon who was born in Vietnam to Chinese parents. As the situation deteriorated in Vietnam, the family moved to Laos when the Communists took over Vietnam and he worked for a newspaper.  When the Communists moved in to Laos, the told his mother he could not live without freedom. He left home and spent 3 years in a refugee camp in Thailand. He has spent the last decades helping refugees and said it is a tremendous privilege to be a U.S. citizen. 

I spoke at the banquet and shared news from Headquarters while challenging members to think about the legacy we are leaving for Tomorrow’s DAR. 

Our entertainment that evening was a performance by Jubilate, a choral group in which Judy participates. http://jubilatesings.weebly.com/

My visit came to a close very early the next morning as I departed for the Colorado State Conference.

 

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