8-14 Jul 2016 Boston, MA
The 126th National Congress of the Sons of the American Revolution was held in Boston from July 8th to July 14th. Of the approximately 450 attendees, 19 were Virginia SAR members, 6 were Virginia SAR dual members, and 8 were our wives. Our delegation was lead by Virginia SAR President Ed Truslow, who was accompanied by his wife, Laura. Immediate past President Reverdy Wright represented us as our trustee at the trustee meetings. Eleven of our chapters were represented: Col. Fielding Lewis, Col. William Grayson, Culpeper Minutemen, Fairfax Resolves, Fincastle Resolutions, Fort Harrison, George Mason, George Washington, Richmond, Thomas Jefferson, and Williamsburg.
The first event for Virginia SAR participants, on Friday afternoon, was a Duck tour of Boston and the Back Bay of the Charles River. This was followed by buses to Faneuil Hall for dinner.
Saturday began with a bus tour of the Lexington and Concord battle sights. Starting with the Green at Lexington, where the first shots of the American Revolution were fired.
After a stop at the Nation Park Visitors Center for a program on the events of April 19, 1775, we continued to Concord and the scene of the fight at the Old North Bridge, where patriots drove back the British who then began their long and bloody retreat to Charlestown.
Saturday evening was the host society's reception, which was attended by many compatriots from the Virginia SAR and our orations contestant.
Sunday began with the Color Guard Breakfast, the Trustees' Meeting, several committee meetings, and the semi-finals of the Joseph S. Rumbaugh Orations Contest. After lunch the National Color Guard assembled, was reviewed by President General Lawrence, and marched to the Old South Church for the Memorial Service.
In the afternoon there were several other committee meetings. After dinner the Joseph S. Rumbaugh Orations Contest Finals were conducted, with Virginia SAR past President Larry McKinley as the master of ceremonies, ably assisted by Darrin Schmidt of the Fairfax Resolves Chapter. Our state winner, Alexandria Rodriguez, placed second in this national competition!
Monday morning the Opening Session of the 126th Congress commenced with the posting of the colors by the national color guard. The main order of business this morning was the reports of the general officers and the committee chairs. Virginia compatriots presenting reports included: International District VPG Mike Elston, Bylaws, Rules and Resolutions Committee Chairman Peter Davenport, C.A.R. Liaison Committee Chairman Darrin Schmidt, Kings College Visiting Professor Committee Chairman Joe Dooley, Knight Essay Contest Committee Chairman Mike Elston, and Young Members Committee Chairman Mike Elston, This was followed by the Youth Awards Presentation Luncheon.
During this luncheon the Virginia SAR was recognized as tied for first place for the President General's special award for participation in youth awards programs.
One of the special features of Monday was the call by past President General and Culpeper Minutemen Chapter Dual Member Ed Butler for those who have them, to wear their seersucker suits. Several Virginia SAR members participated.
In the afternoon the Congress reconvened and continued the morning's business.
In the evening the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), the oldest and largest genealogical society in the world hosted a reception for compatriots. The NEHGS was founded in 1845 and today has over 25,000 members and a staff of 50. Their seven story building is a treasure trove of genealogical information.
Later in the evening the Congress reconvened for Recognition Night, during which the Virginia SAR received many awards. Significantly, the George Washington Chapter was recognized as the Outstanding Large Chapter in the SAR, receiving the President General's Cup!!! Virginia SAR Historian Larry Aaron received the Stephan Taylor Award for his research and writings, that made a distinguished contribution to the preservation of the history of the American Revolutionary era and its patriots. The Virginia Society also received the Genealogists Generals 1st Place Award. The Virginia Society surpassed all others in having no applications or supplementals pended.
Tuesday morning began with the Atlantic Middle States Districts Breakfast. Virginia SAR President addressed the gathering, bring all up to date on events and plans in the Virginia Society. Virginia SAR past President Mark Brennan was recognized as the incoming Vice President General for the Mid-Atlantic States District.
The General Session continued Tuesday morning and afternoon with lively discussion and votes on several issues. The Congress approved the expenditure of funds to support the copying and online publication of SAR applications with supporting documents by Family Search. Concerns about privacy were raised and addressed with assurances that information on living persons would not be published. A dues increase was also raised, debated, and defeated.
A slate of nominees was approved for the General Officer positions for 2016-17. Only one position was contested, that of Treasurer General. Delegates voted for the candidates for Treasurer General, with Warren Alter of Arizona the winner. Installation of the new officers was scheduled for Wednesday.
Tuesday afternoon the ladies had lunch in the Boston Library and were entertained by a program about Deborah Sampson, who served as a soldier in the light infantry company of the 4th Massachusetts Regiment. She enlisted as "Robert Shurtleff", was wounded in 1782, and honorably discharged in 1783 after serving 17 months. In 1805 she received a pension for her service in the Continental Army.
Tuesday evening was the President General's Banquet, hosted by President General Tom Lawrence. The guest speaker, Dr. Peter S. Onuf, spoke on Thomas Jefferson's Imperial Vision. A special surprise was a living statue of Thomas Jefferson in the foyer as the attendees gathered for the cocktail hour.
On Wednesday morning the final session of the Congress was held. This included the election of the new vice presidents general, including Mark Brennan as the Vice President General of the Mid-Atlantic District. The trustees were also elected, including Reverdy Wright as the Virginia Trustee and Ed Truslow as alternate.
In the afternoon there were tours of the USS Constitution Museum and the Adams National Park .
Wednesday evening was the Installation Banquet. Those of interest to Virginia who were installed include:
President General J. Michael Tomme of GA
(dual member of Col Fielding Lewis and George Washington Chapter of VA)
Secretary General Larry T. Guzy of GA
Treasurer General Warren M. Alter of AZ
Chancellor General Davis L. Wright of DE
Genealogist General John D. Sinks of DC
Historian General John T. Manning of NH
Librarian General C. Bruce Pickette of AL
Registrar General Russell F. Devenney, Jr. of MO
Surgeon General Dr. Larry M. Leslie of KY
Chaplain General Rt. Rev. Louis C. Carlson, Jr. of CA
Vice President General (Mid-Atlantic District) Mark S. Brennan of VA
Virginia SAR 1st Vice President Mike Elston was appointed to the Executive Committee
Virginia SAR attendees, seated, left to right: Elsa Chase, Bonnie Henn, Cat Schwetke, unknown, Virginia SAR President Ed Truslow, First Lady Laura Truslow, Norma Sheap, Billie Brock, SAR First Lady Jenny Tomme. Standing, left to right: Reverdy Wright, Ernie Coggins, Phil Williams, Jay Henn, Bill Schwetke, Paul Chase, Unknown, Andrew Lyngar, Ed Butler, Joe Dooley, Peter Davenport, Greg Bodge, Kirk Sheap, Lindsey Brock, Paul Walden, President General Mike Tomme.
The next Annual Congress will be in Knoxville, TN, 7-13 July 2017. This will be convenient for Virginia SAR compatriots, especially those in the southwest part of our state. See you in Knoxville!!!