With bells ringing, members of the Fort Massac chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution gathered last Thursday at the Massac County Courthouse to celebrate the 233rd anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution.

It was Sept. 17, 1787, when 39 delegates from 12 of the 13 American Colonies met in Philadelphia to sign the document they had created.

“Imagine what it was like in 1776, days before and after signing the Declaration of Independence from King George III of England,” said Diana Douglas, the chapter's media chairperson and keynote speaker.

“Would you be willing to risk your life and fortune to rebel against the king? As our ancestors wrote the documents to form our more prefect union, can you imagine their wit and foresight as they imagine the possibilities for a government of free citizens in the new world?”

Douglas reminded attendees of that history. Following the Declaration, those ancestors fought the Revolutionary War and following other attempts, the states approved the U.S. Constitution in 1789.

From the First Amendment through its articles, “the framers of the Constitution compromised to establish the principles of our democracy,” Douglas said. “Let us unite to uphold the Constitution and to keep our country strong and to preserve what our ancestors established.”

It is through those ancestors one becomes a member of the DAR, which was founded in 1890. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the national non-profit, non-political volunteer women's service organization is dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history and securing America's future through better education for children.

The Fort Massac chapter was founded in December 1929. It currently has 43 members and five associate members. At Thursday's event, members shared the patriot who connects them to the Revolutionary War. Those patriots, according to chapter regent Pat Hertter, were not only soldiers but anyone who provided assistance to and for the Revolution.

Potential DAR members have to trace their lineage back to that patriot. Chapter registrar Kathy Reagor and state DAR genealogists can assist with that step. Once the application is completed, it's submitted to the national headquarters which researches the submission accuracy before membership is complete.

Hertter first became interested in the DAR as a child.

“I was a little girl at Fort Massac and there was a DAR group. They were wearing blue outfits with white aprons, white hats and black shoes. I looked at them and said, 'That's what I want to do,'” she said. “Even as a child, when my family gave information, I'd write it down and keep it in a book.”

With that book as a launching point, she later began researching her link to the Revolutionary War. She became a DAR member a few years ago. The national organization recently reached 1 million members.

“So many don't know their family histories. I encourage people to find it out and write it down and share it,” Hertter said.

Like their ancestors, DAR members volunteer in various ways in the communities they live. One of those for the Fort Massac DAR chapter was the presentation of Constitution posters to the county's schools in conjunction with Constitution Week, Sept. 17-23.

For more information on becoming a DAR member, contact Reagor at kreagor@hotmail.com.

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