Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Williamsburg Plays Host to Virginia Daughters of the American Revolution State Conference

WILLIAMSBURG — The spectacle of ceremony, tradition, and American history was on full display at the Williamsburg Lodge as the Virginia Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) kicked off its 128th State Conference in Williamsburg March 22-24.

At the evening kick-off dinner on March 22, the Williamsburg Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution carried in the flags, the first conference in 128 years that men were invited to be the color guard.

Visiting Regents from other states are given the opportunity to bring greetings from other chapters, and the Virginia State Conference had four visiting regents — Patrice Donnelly of Alabama, Elizabeth Calhoun from Maine, Anna Choi from North Carolina, and Marcy Carter-Lovick of Texas. The Vice Mayor of Williamsburg, W. Pat Dent, also brought greetings from the city.

The last time the state conference was held in Williamsburg was in 1976, in honor of America’s bicentennial.

Williamsburg Chapter Regent Robin Doucette, who was part of the organizing committee, was excited to welcome her DAR sisters to the area.

“It was exciting, it was heart-stirring, it geeked my little history-loving heart out. All of my life I’ve wanted to live in Williamsburg and all of my life I’ve wanted to be in the DAR. To have those two things come together at the same time was just mind-blowing to me. On a bigger level, I think it was incredibly moving to see that here on the eve of the 250th, our state conference returned to Williamsburg because this is where so much of Virginia’s history happened,” Doucette said.

The state conference brings together the 128 chapters throughout Virginia for a weekend of business, workshops, meetings, classes, award ceremonies and a memorial service. The weekend also honors chapter leadership with a Regent dinner and a District Director breakfast.

The guest speaker at the opening ceremony dinner was National Honorary Chair of the Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission, Carly Fiorina. Fiorina spoke to the packed ballroom about the importance of history, specifically Virginia history as we head into the celebrations for America’s 250th birthday.

“I think it is up to each of us as citizens, and particularly those of us who understand so well how important our history is to our ability to move forward. I think it is up to all of us to demonstrate the character of America, in this commemoration, in this semiquincentennial, as we continue to lead up to 2026. We must demonstrate the character of America in a way that lifts us up, renews our commitment to our nation and each other, and reassures the world that the United States remains a leader and a beacon of freedom for everyone,” Fiorina said in her speech.

To round out the evening, the Virginia Society of the Children of the America Revolution presented their debutantes for the year. Rylee Madison Phillips and Virginia Stockner were presented to the State Regent, Laurie Parker Nesbitt, during the debutante ceremony.

Nesbitt was excited to be in Williamsburg ahead of the 250th birthday of the United States.

“While we thought it would be great to have our state conference at Williamsburg, we didn’t initially realize that it would be a return visit, since the last time the Virginia DAR held its state conference there was in 1976, years before most of us joined DAR. But what could go better than DAR and Williamsburg and Yorktown? Here we are going into America’s 250th. Perhaps it’s not that we chose it; maybe Williamsburg pulled us in or the Revolutionary spirit put us together.”

The weekend is always emotional for Doucette, and many members of the DAR as well, as they feel a deep connection with each other and the history of the country in their individual chapters.

“One of the greatest blessings of DAR are the friends that we make. I am friends with women all across the state of Virginia now. There is a deep love of country. That is the underlying thread that runs through all of us and unites us all together,” Doucette said.

The 129th DAR State Conference will again be held in Williamsburg in March 2025.

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