Visiting the Land of Enchantment

Written by: Lynn Young, President General
April 1, 2015

After a brief visit to the Texas State Conference, I departed very early on Friday, March 6th and flew to Albuquerque for the 95th New Mexico State Conference, Jacquelyn Chase, State Regent.  Despite my delayed flight, Vice President General Zadeea Harris and the conference guests from Colorado, First Vice President General Ann Dillon, Vice President General Gale Crafton and State Regent Marcy Kimminau, greeted me at the airport for the ride to the hotel. Other guests included Vice President General Mary Frisch, Southwest Division DAR Service for Veterans Vice Chair Cindy Bell, and Volunteer Genealogists Southwest Division Vice Chair Wendy Kelly. 

Arriving just in time for the Heritage Club Tea, I appreciated the opportunity to thank the members of the Heritage Club, Founders Club, 1890 Giving Circle, and Sustaining Supporters who give generously in support of our missions and programs.

After the tea, we drove a short distance to the New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial which is located in a 25 acre park. It is a lovely area honoring veterans of all conflicts and includes a parade ground and Amphitheatre.  On the border of the parade grounds in front of the Amphitheatre are memorial bricks placed in honor or in memory of someone.  We were all teary eyed when Jacque located the brick which Charles Dibrell Chapter donated in memory of Jacque’s late son, Kelley, an Air Force veteran, who was killed in 2012 in a training accident days before his graduation from the Oklahoma City Police Academy.   Next to Kelley’s brick is one the chapter generously donated in honor of Jacque.  Jacque had just learned that Kelley would be honored at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to be dedicated in Washington, D.C. in May.

Near the amphitheatre is a memorial honoring women veterans which was dedicated that morning and which included many bricks donated by the DAR. We visited the museum where a wall of photographs of New Mexico Vietnam War veterans was displayed.  Following a delicious dinner, Cindy Bell of Nevada shared her personal story of serving in the U.S. Air Force as a young woman.  As we left the museum, I noticed an old Mail box that had been repurposed to serve as a drop off place for worn American Flags in order for them to be disposed of properly. What a great idea!

It was fascinating to learn that Jacque’s ancestors arrived in Nueva Espana (New Mexico) with the Spanish in 1598 and have lived in the Taos area ever since.  Santa Fe is the oldest city, founded in 1607 and Albuquerque was founded in 1706. The state has a Navajo reservation which covers 14 million acres.

The conference convened Saturday morning with a theme of Celebrate America.  Each chapter had a beautifully embroidered Chair sash and I was delighted to find one with my name on it.  State Officers reported at the Board of Management meeting the previous day, allowing time for the state chairs and chapter regents to report Saturday morning.

Jacque’s theme is “Remember Your Past, Live your Present, Plan your Future.”  Jacque’s project is to support Henderson House, a transitional house for homeless female veterans and their dependants. 

Among the interesting reports, I learned that:

  • DAR has been active in New Mexico since 1894 when Mary Catherine Prince, wife of the colonial governor LeBaron Bradford Prince, served as Acting State Regent.  There are now are more than 800 members in 18 chapters;
  • New Mexico DAR proudly supports five C.A.R. societies;
  • Over 26,000 Celebrate America! hours were reported in 2014;
  • A chapter funded 33 trips home for the holidays for service men and women through Angel Arms;
  • A chapter’s Constitution Week Bells Across America commemoration was aired on local TV;
  • A member established a neighborhood lending library for children;
  • New Mexico DAR has 31 trained volunteer genealogists to assist with application papers.
  • The Chapter Development and Revitalization Commission generously offered help, saying “Give us a call – we’ll do it all!”

Suzanne Heske, Women’s Issues Chair, gave a moving report including her experiences in the past year with career, family and health issues.

The awards luncheon featured speaker Henrietta Martinez Christmas whose family arrived in New Mexico around the same time as Jacque’s in the late 1500’s.  Henrietta currently serves as President of the New Mexico Genealogy Society and will be an asset to the Spanish Task Force. At the luncheon, the state’s American History Essay Contest and DAR Good Citizen winners were presented.

Following the luncheon, we had an opportunity to visit the American Heritage Committee exhibit room with displays of their winning entries.  Also displayed were family artifacts including a collection of wedding dresses, a shadow box of Spanish metal works from the 1500’s and a document signed by Henry Knox (which I wish was in our Americana collection).

At the Banquet Saturday night, I shared updates on the administration goals and then challenged the members to consider the legacy we are leaving for tomorrow’s DAR. Jacque presented a donation to the President General’s Project and following the tradition begun at my first official visit, gave me a sombrero and turquoise charm. Jacque gave me a personal gift of a stunning turquoise necklace made by an artist in her hometown of Taos.

Jacque presented the silver bowl awards to chapters excelling in several categories: chapter with the most members attending the conference; chapter with the most magazine subscriptions, chapter with the most new members by application, and the best Chapter Master Report.

Sunday’s activities started early but I was greeted with a lovely view of the morning sunrise over the Sandia Mountains as the hot air balloons floated above. The State Officers Club breakfast convened with a "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" theme and all were invited to share stories of tumbleweeds or how to deal with them creatively. Cynthia Myers-Morrison shared tumbleweed recipes and Jacque suggested a border wall be built to keep the Texas tumbleweeds from rolling across into New Mexico, but that a slit large enough for the tourist’s Visa cards be left in the wall.  To say the business was conducted irreverently is a bit of an understatement as they even elected me as a club officer… 

Dignity resumed as we honored the deceased members at the Memorial Service.  After the Memorial Service, longtime friend and past Vice President General Suzanne Heske gave me a driving tour of Albuquerque, including the historic district, begun in the late 1600’s.  The town was strongly influenced by the earliest settlers, the Spanish and Native Americans, including the Navajo and Pueblo tribes.  The town has a large emphasis on art and features many outdoor sculptures. 

The determination of our early members to preserve our history has always inspired me and the story of the National Old Trails Road is one of my favorites.  Mrs. John Trigg Moss traveled across the country by car with the president of the National Old Trails Road Association, Judge Harry S. Truman, to select the location for the twelve monuments to the pioneer women to be placed from coast to coast from Cumberland, Maryland, to Upland, California.  Thanks to Suzanne, I was able to check off one item on my bucket list - my first visit to one of our Madonna of the Trail monuments, located on the same block as the Federal Courthouse and dedicated in 1928. The Madonna of the Trail monuments were intended to provide a symbol of the courage and faith of the women whose strength and love aided so greatly in conquering the wilderness and establishing permanent homes.  I continue to be amazed at the legacy left by our members.

After a delicious lunch with Suzanne at the Standard Diner, I headed back to Texas for a few days.  I thoroughly enjoyed hearing how the New Mexico Daughters Celebrate America!

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