Does that mean that I am any less of an American? Does that mean that I'm not entitled to the same rights and freedoms for which Revolutionary-era patriots fought? No, of course not, and I think nearly all DAR members would agree. In fact, I like to think that I actually have a better idea of what the "pursuit of the American Dream" looks like compared with people whose families have been here for many generations. I KNEW some of the people who left their homelands for America. Their stories, though some of them still vague and fleeting, are fresher in the minds of living family members than a family whose ancestors came over 250 years ago.
I have to admit, I don't completely 'get' the desire to join lineage societies. I DO understand their value in the realms of genealogy, especially if they possess books, papers, photos, and other documentation of people and families from generations past. I also DO understand the desire to join an organization in order to meet new people and to share common interests (I joined a women's fraternal organization in college and I'm still involved in its alumnae group). But to exclude (harsh word, I know, but accurate) people simply because they do not have or cannot prove blood connections to the Revolutionary War seems wrong to me.
People will probably tell me, "Well, you could probably join an Italian- or Polish-American society due to your heritage." True, but I don't want to. I am an American; I don't have any connections to the Old Country. I identify more with the language, history, and heritage of THIS country.
I visited Boston for the first time this past summer with my husband. We walked the Freedom Trail and took the T down to Quincy to see the Adams Homestead. I had never before walked through a burial ground in which some of the people were born in the 1600s - I loved it. I truly see the value in preserving and educating future generations about our founding mothers and fathers - something to which the DAR is also dedicated - and I can see myself volunteering within this realm of society once my kids get a little older. But, they don't want me. It's their loss.
©2012, copyright Emily Kowalski Schroeder