Monday, July 4, 2011

Are You a Child of the Revolution?

Independence has been on the minds of many this weekend, between the celebrations of Canada Day on July 1 and Independence Day in the United States on July 4. For those with an interest in genealogy, that focus translates into the question: where were my ancestors during the first instance of my nation’s historic celebration?

The traditional destination for those Americans wondering that question has always been the Daughters of the American Revolution. That century-old institution has been the go-to source for some people hoping to fast-track their family tree research, since the national society maintains an extensive collection of historical data and is the repository of all its members’ documentation of descent.

DAR membership is potentially open not only to the female descendants of veterans serving in the American Revolutionary War, but to such descendants of the many others involved in the independence of those former British colonies. This would include descent from the signers of the American Declaration of Independence, participants in the Boston Tea Party, and others who, though not serving in a military capacity, aided the cause through professional assistance (such as medical treatments of soldiers) or through financial assistance of the Revolutionary cause. For that reason, it should come as no surprise that the DAR has chapters not only in the United States, but in several other countries as well.

In recent years, the DAR has stumbled into quandaries yielding less-than-favorable press coverage, so many people don’t view membership in quite the sterling light as might have been enjoyed in earlier decades. Perhaps that is why other organizations have sprung up to recognize those revolutionary roots without tainting the commemoration with other less-salutary associations.

Of course, there is one more glaring reason for selecting alternate organizations for such recognition: what about the sons? And there are, indeed, such organizations--for instance, the Sons of the American Revolution.

But what about those who shunned the Revolution? There is a commemorative organization for such descendants, also: the United Empire Loyalists, whose honorees removed from the original thirteen colonies to points north in the British dominions of Canada.

Whether you have roots in your land reaching back that far in time or not—or, like me, haven’t begun to check for that possibility yet—these membership organizations do provide a vast repository of historic documents that further the research cause for all of us.

In celebrating these significant dates in the history of these neighboring countries--the United States and Canada—while enjoying the feasting and fellowship, while oohing and aahing over the fireworks displays, let’s remember not only the significance of the days in our history, but the individuals who actually made the personal sacrifice to collectively assure us this welcome result.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...