Saturday, April 25, 2015

Society Saturday - Wounded Warriors

The speaker for the Candlelight Supper of the Daughters of American Colonists was Jason Brassie (?sp).  He was a spokesperson for the Wounded Warrior Project, which is a charity supported by the DAC.

Jason spoke eloquently and passionately about his experiences as a soldier in Iraq.  He told how proud he was to be assigned to a tank after he joined the army following 9/11.  He gave some anecdotes of his experiences following his deployment.

Then he told of the night he was injured by an IED.  He was told he would never walk again, had 13 surgeries and months of rehabilitation.  He told of his isolation after he returned home.

The first bright spot during his hospitalization was receiving a backpack from the Wounded Warriors.  It contained essentials such as a Tshirt and toiletries.  After returning home, the Wounded Warriors helped him reenter the world.  They sponsored social events where others with similar stories could connect and share experiences.  They offer educational opportunities and job training.

Jason was a powerful speaker about how his life was saved by the Wounded Warrior Project.  It made us proud to think that our donations have helped him and other injured soldiers.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Society Saturday - Touring the Library of Congress

At the Annual Rendezvous Banquet of the Women Descendants of the Ancient & Honorable Artillery Company, we learned about the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress.  Susan Reyburn who is a Senior Writer and Tour Docent there gave us a Virtual Tour.

We learned several interesting facts about the Library of Congress - 
It was started in 1812 as the "Book Palace of the American People".  Unfortunately the collection burned in 1814 when the British burned Washington.  This prompted Thomas Jefferson to sell his private collection of 6500 books to congress for $25000.  

The library continued to be the source of information for Congress and consisted primarily of law books and the like, until 1870 when the National Copyright Act was passed.  This required every item that was copyrighted to have 2 copies submitted to the Library of Congress.  Soon books began piling up everywhere in the room at the Capitol building used for the library.  Therefore, the Jefferson building was built in the 1890's.

It was the first government building built in DC for electricity and has more gold leaf than any other building in the US.  There are several art pieces in the building which were created by artists who had previously helped design the White City of the Columbian Exposition.

Ms. Reyburn showed us several examples of the art and told of all the various symbolism incorporated in it.

Some interesting statistics that she told us were:
There are currently 161 million items in inventory, including 64 million manuscripts, 36 million books, films, maps, and so on.
The US Copyright office receives 10,000 items per day.
The library staff fulfills 600,000 requests from Congress every year, ranging from books to review to full research reports.

The best part is that it is all free and open to the public.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Society Saturday - Establishing the identity for the US Navy

The National Society US Daughters annual banquet speaker was Commander James "Chris" Rentfrow,   a history professor at the US Naval Academy.  He spoke about the role that the War of 1812 and its importance in solidifying our identity as a nation and the identity of our US Navy.

The naval actions of the War of 1812 can be divided into three parts:

First were the Single Ship Frigate Actions.  They took place from August to October 1812.  There were 3 big victories - First, the USS Constitution defeated HMS Guerriere under the command of Hull, next the SS United States defeated HMS Macedonian under the command of Steven Decatur, then the Constitution again, this time under the command of Bainbridge, defeated the HMS Java.

After sustaining three major losses, the British diverted more ships from the  Napoleonic War in Europe to North America.  The big frigates were now locked into port.

The naval war shifted to lake actions.  The Americans needed to control inland lakes to keep their supply routes safe and block movements of the British troops and supplies.  The Battle of Lake Erie represented a major victory under Commodore Perry and his flag "don't give up the ship" in September of 1813.  A year later, the British were trying to move south on Lake Champlain to reach New York City.  They were stopped by McDonough's fleet using a new "fight from anchor" strategy.

The third component of naval action was that of the USS Essex.  Captain David Porter took her to the Pacific to harass the British whaling efforts.

These events helped to solidify the identity of the US Navy, in much the same way as the War of 1812 helped establish the United States as an independant country.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Society Saturday - The Battle of New Orleans

The State Council of US Daughters of 1812 held their Annual  State Council meeting.

The guest speaker was Dale Phillips, an expert on the War of 1812 in the south.  He explained the importance of the Battle of New Orleans, which was not just "a battle that occurred after the war was over" like we were taught in school.

He explained some of the military strategy behind the final battles, and concluded that the Battle was very important to history because:

1. It catapulted Andrew Jackson straight into the presidency.
2. Although the Treaty of Ghent had been negotiated, it probably would not have been ratified by Parliament if the British had been victorious
3. If the British had won, they would have stayed encamped on US soil as an occupation force - they would not have been available to fight Napoleon at Waterloo.
4. The outnumbered Americans secured a victory to their morale as well, helping to create a more unified national consciousness.
5. Calls for secession from the New England States during the Hartford Convention were quieted by a victory over England.

After the program, the State daughters of 1812 held their business meeting which included election and installation of the 2015-18 slate of officers.