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He Doffed His Hat To Me!

Walking toward the visitor’s center at Musgrove Mill Historical Site on Saturday, I met a re-enactor. He, not only bowed to me, but doffed his hat! In response, I nodded my head.

Image result for 18th century American doff

The action of respect took me aback. Silent words of greeting were spoken, and for a moment, I felt like a queen. No, I was not attired as one; there was no crown on my head or long gown trailing behind me, but my presence had been noted with 18th century courtesy. In those years, this cultural expression was one of recognition, respect, gratitude, or simple greeting between two persons.

In retrospect, I believe I might have straightened my shoulders a bit and walked on with a slight smile. The unexpected salutation made me more aware of the manners that have changed in our world.

There is a connection between doffing and donning. One of the first uses of it in print can be found in Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, published around 1470. He wrote, “Doffe of thy clothes, And knele in thy kyrtylle” (tunic or petticoat).

Image result for 18th century American doff

The English bard, William Shakespeare, frequently used  ‘doff,’ often in a figurative manner. In the balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet entreats Romeo to change his name with the words, “Romeo, doff thy name.” In the The Taming of the Shrew,  Baptista chides the bridegroom with “Fie, doff this habit, shame to your estate”.

Obviously, we can don hats, clothes, or even character traits. Equally easy, all can be later doffed. These archaic words simply describe the actions of “do on” or “do off.”

A minister calling on a parishioner

From the 16th to the 18th centuries in England, the donning and doffing of hats was governed by a code of etiquette and custom that it is hard for us now to appreciate. Each man of standing wore a hat, and the form of hat and the rules were a part of society. This custom filtered down in society to the working classes, who greeted the gentry with a doff.

English settlers brought this custom with them, and polite society expected this courtesy on a new continent.

In the 21st century, men no longer routinely wear hats. Both my grandfathers and great-grandfathers traditionally wore hats when they left their homes. When they entered a building, they removed their hats. My dad owned a few hats and wore them occasionally for specific times; he owned a rain hat, a golf cap, a Master’s hat, and a Derby hat. Slowly hats have lost their places.

Whether a national leader or a farmer, men doffed their hats well into the 20th century.

Image result for art print: british prime minister winston churchill doffing hat outsidBritish Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill

On July 4, 1892, there was a joint meeting to celebrate our nation’s birthday. This clear, sunny day was lightened with a calm breeze off the Potomac River.

The Daughters of the American Revolution, the Sons of the American Revolution, the Sons of the Revolution, and the Order of the Cincinnati met together at 9:00 at the Church of the Epiphany in our nation’s capitol. The organ refrain of God Save the State was as loud as the singing of America in this special religious and patriotic service.

A Chaplain gave directions for the order of the processional to the monument, and the men and women, on foot and in carriages, took their places. The Daughters of the American Revolution were at the end. As the parade reached the corner of G and the Fifteenth Street, business men hurried out of a hotel.

Police held back people and cars from interrupting the walk. Seeing the elegantly dressed men and women in the street, a gentleman asked, “Officer, what is this?”

The response was, “The Sons and Daughters of the Revolution.”

In one motion, that same man doffed his hat. All down the street, man after man followed suit as the men and women passed. Until all in the procession passed, no hats returned to their respective heads. It was a tribute to not only those who walked the streets of Washington, DC, but also for the memory of those who fought during the Revolutionary War. (from First “Safe and Sound” Movement by Helen Hardin Walworth, Founder and Honorary Vice President General NSDAR)

There are no photographs of this scene, but in my imagination those doffed hats respectfully speak to both the past and the future of our nation.

Golf has been dubbed the gentleman’s sport. I grew up in a family of golfers and was privileged to attend the Master’s on several occasions. There is something about how the golfers greet their fans as they walk up the fairway. Standing to their feet and loud clapping greet the golfers, and the players respond with a doffed cap or visor.

Phil Mickelson

Albert Einstein said, “I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.”

No, doffing one’s hat is neglected in society these days, but respect is always in fashion.

 

Welcome Home! And Thank You!

Image result for vietnam war commemoration flag

On Saturday, October 10, Kate Barry Chapter NSDAR celebrated our local Vietnam Veterans with breakfast and certificates of appreciation. Three local businesses, the Beacon, Cake Head Bake Shop, and Westside Chick Fil A, helped us. WSPA filmed some of the event and interviewed the veterans.

The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act authorized the Secretary of Defense to conduct a program to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War and “in conducting the commemorative program, the Secretary shall coordinate, support, and facilitate other programs and activities of the Federal Government, State and local governments, and other persons and organizations in commemoration of the Vietnam War.”

Statistics Fact Sheet

Our National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) were encouraged to become a commemorative partner, and my chapter did. A partner had the opportunity to assist a grateful nation in thanking and honoring our Vietnam Veterans and their families.

For several months, we worked with the local Vietnam Veterans group to thank and honor these men and women for their service.

It was pouring rain as the veterans arrived that morning; they had a short meeting, and then we invited them for a buffet breakfast of grits, eggs, bacon, chicken biscuits, fruit, and a variety of muffins. To quench their thirst, orange juice, iced tea, and coffee was available. It was wonderful to see some of them go back and fill their plates a second time!

With a few remarks, I introduced them to NSDAR and our purpose in promoting patriotism, helping to preserve American history, and promoting the education of this history. This is a 125-year-old lineage society. We trace our ancestors back to those Patriots that fought in the Revolutionary War, and we continue to reach out to local veterans to say thank you for your service.

Then we started giving out certificates of appreciation and lapel pins. These lapel pins were given to us from the Vietnam Commemoration Committee. The son, an eight-year-old cub scout of our Chapter Vice Regent, presented these in a dignified manner to each Vietnam veteran. He shook hands with each one, and big smiles were exchanged. It was an emotional time for all of us.

This lapel pin is symbolic. The eagle represents courage, honor and dedicated service to our nation. As one of the most recognizable and notable American symbols, it is emblazoned with distinction on numerous military insignia. The color blue matches the canton of the American flag and signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice. The circle shape and blue color also match the official seal of the Commemoration. Laurel Wreath is a  time-honored symbol representing victory, integrity and strength. The stripes behind the eagle represent the American flag. The six stars represent the six allies who served, sacrificed and fought alongside one another: Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, and the United States. The message, “A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You,” is embossed on the back, closest to the heart of the veteran who wears it.

We also presented the group with a commemorative flag.

This war was fought on a tiny land mass and followed by citizens on nightly television. Movies tweaked the reality of those rice paddies and deadly land minds. Lyrics spoke against it, and politicians spouted words.

This version of the “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” music video was created by Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum as part of its ongoing effort to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. The men who are featured in the video are all Vietnam Veterans who have helped to build the exhibit. “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” was one of the most requested songs by United States Armed Forces members

For those who spent time in the Hanoi Hilton and other camps, for those who gave their lives, and for those who returned home, I am so grateful. I honor you and thank you for your service.

Whatever our thoughts then and now of the US being involved in this war, we are late in saying thank you to the men and women that fought in Vietnam.

This YouTube video reminds us of the importance of this. It’s never too late to say thanks and welcome home!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2L3skZ7FEw

 

 

Bury the Past? Oh, No!

My grandmother, Lulu, loved history, and she shared its stories often. As a card-carrying member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Colonial Dames, and the Magna Charta Dames, she was proud of her heritage. As a former teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in Kentucky, she never lost her love for learning. As a former home school teacher of her three sons and daughter, she put their education on a firm footing in their early years on Mirror Lake Farm, outside of Shelbyville, Kentucky.

When she wasn’t reading, she was writing. Her book shelves were full of history’s stories, both fact and fiction. She regularly visited the Shelbyville Library, attended her monthly book club meetings, worked as a reporter for the local paper, researched family history in neighboring counties, and wrote multitudinous letters to family and friends inquiring about their histories.

Carrying pads and pencils, she spent hours in the NSDAR Library while visiting with her oldest son in Washington, DC. She was an extraordinary researcher and never gave up on finding the truth, even if it meant chasing rabbits. She said she smiled when she walked into this library.

Born on May 17, 1896, in Woodford County, Kentucky, she never lived in any other state. Her imaginative travels to other places in the past would have made for good reading. She described them as if she had been there.

Whether it was the Hitt family traveling by raft down the Kentucky River to escape the Indians or Jesse James on a lathered horse, running from the law, the escapades were never dull.

And, yes, he is a relative I will tell you about another day.

 

As a retired teacher myself, I find it fascinating that my grandmother taught in a one-room school. For three years, she lived one month with a family and then another throughout the school year. This was part of her pay, free room and board, and the town shared the expense. Lulu took her packed pail to school, just like her students. Wood for the stove was donated, but it was her job to lay the fire for the day during the winter. She had various numbers of students throughout the year, since school attendance was governed by the crop season. Grades 1-8 worked at the same time in the same small room; it must have been bedlam at times with all the recitations.

This teacher and lover of books became the wife of a future farmer when she married Wallace C. Collins. Moving from Louisville to Shelbyville, she cooked over an open fire while their farmhouse was being built. The family lived in the garage until then.

As the Collins family increased, so did the work for Lulu. She made her own butter and bread and canned and froze vegetables from her garden. Rising at 4:00 each morning, she fixed breakfast for the family and any workers that were there. My dad often spoke of the biscuits, gravy, potatoes, bacon, sausage, and eggs that were a staple.

On Wallace and Lucile’s 25th wedding anniversary in 1943, Wallace died. At age 47, Lulu took over running their tobacco and dairy farm on Mt. Eden Road. During this time, the tobacco make the farm payments to the bank, and the cows paid the other bills. Both were necessary to make ends meet, and Lulu never faltered.

When we visited every summer, it was a unique experience from our city life. We always went in June, and I slept in my aunt’s bedroom. Roosters woke us up, and the mooing of cows headed to their pasture from the barn was the breakfast music. Several times a day neighboring peacocks visited and added their raucous noises to all within hearing distance.

It was like time stopped for me there. The agenda was loose, and the days were lazy. We went to the Shelbyville County fair, visited relatives, and checked out the horse farms. I read to my heart’s content and listened to the tales of yesterday. The cadence of the voices was mesmerizing, as both nostalgia and excitement peppered the stories.

Oh, how I wish I could remember more. Bury the past? Oh, no!