Inspiring Words in Challenging Times
As I post, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) is hosting its annual Continental Congress. The event, traditionally an in-person gathering in Washington, D.C. at the organization’s headquarters, has been held online this year. As each program during the week has begun, members are invited to stand at home or from whatever location they are watching, to say the Pledge of Allegiance and recite the American’s Creed.
“I believe in the United States of America, as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes. I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.”William Tyler Page, The American’s Creed
During these challenging times – particularly as equality for all citizens of the United States is a matter of urgent concern – the American’s Creed is more important than ever. I believe as a nation, we should renew our interest in the American’s Creed, and encourage the review and study of it by citizens of all ages.
“The American’s Creed” dates from WWI. It was written by William Tyler Page, the winning entry of a national contest and the title of a resolution passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on April 3, 1918. As Denise Doring VanBuren, President General of DAR notes, “On the eve of World War I, a contest approved by President Wilson was announced to secure ‘the best summary of the political faith of America.’ In March 1917, the City of Baltimore offered a prize of $1,000 for the best entry (an amount equal to about $17,000 today). More than 3,000 entries were submitted prior to the closing of the contest on September 14, 1917. Fifty of these were turned over to a committee, and ‘Creed No. 384’ was selected as the best.”
By way of background, DAR was founded in 1890. It is a nonprofit, non-political volunteer women’s service organization dedicated to, “promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America’s future through better education for children.” DAR members volunteer millions of service hours. It one of the most inclusive genealogical societies in the nation with 190,000 members in 3,000 chapters across the United States and internationally.
I joined DAR almost by accident in 2010. I was volunteering to help a local Texas DAR chapter with a recognition event. An avid and talented genealogist asked if I might have ancestors who participated in the American Revolutionary War? I responded that I had heard perhaps our family had ancestors dating back to 18th century America, but I did not know for sure. She took it from there. After detailed genealogical research conducted free of charge, I was formally approved and inducted. Today, I have three documented American Revolutionary War ancestors, and I have two more under consideration. I can say enthusiastically that discovering my ancestors, and learning about their roles in the success of the American Revolutionary War, has been among the most meaningful experiences of my life.
A few years ago, PBS produced, “American Creed,” a documentary featuring Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David M. Kennedy. The basic framework for the discussion is, “What does it mean to be American? What holds us together in turbulent times?” Follow the link to learn more and to find helpful resources for people of all ages.
It is my perception America is beginning to rise up and out of the divisive, angry, hurtful and often painful times we have experienced the past few years. We can accomplish so much more together with understanding and tolerance than we can fighting one another. Let us return to the American’s Creed, and renew the conviction that we believe in the United States of America, as a government of the people (not just a group of Americans – all the people), by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable.