ALTON — America’s roots run deep in the Daughters of the American Revolution.
While any woman 18 or older can join the organization, regardless of religion or ethnicity, requirements for membership include proof of lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution.
Paula Mattix-Wand, regent for the Ninian Edwards Chapter of the DAR, notes her sixth great-grandfather, George Pontius, was a foot soldier in that war.
“He was a private in Pennsylvania,” she says.
The Ninian Edwards Chapter serves Alton, Godfrey, Wood River and East Alton. Mattix explains the organization is involved in an effort to gather the names and dates of service of all Vietnam veterans in the area.
“The Department of Defense has created commemorative partners in honoring the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War,” she says.
The Ninian Edwards chapter of the DAR has become one of those partners. Its members are helping the state DAR create the Illinois Vietnam War Era Veterans Honor Roster, Volume II. Mattix-Wand explains many area veterans were not included in the first volume and this is an effort to compile a more comprehensive list to honor those who served.
The national DAR organization has carried the torch of patriotism for more than 100 years. Since its founding in 1890, it has admitted more than 850,000 women. Today, there are more than 165,000 members in 3,000 chapters in 50 states, the District of Columbia and 11 countries.
Spanning three centuries of service, DAR’s mission remains vitally relevant, even in a rapidly changing world. Among its activities are sponsorship of scholarships, donations to preservation projects, archiving of historical documents and volunteering to assist veteran patients in VA hospitals as well as non-VA facilities. The local chapter provided goods to area veterans in nursing homes on Veterans Day and is working to preserve historic landmarks in the area.
“All of the women in the organization have the common bond of a connection to the Revolutionary War,” Mattix-Wand says. “We are driven by history. I am constantly amazed at what our members learn about our local heritage.”
Mattix-Wand notes the Honor Roster project is one of many efforts the local chapter participates in to educate people about our country’s past, preserve the history of our nation and provide service to the community.
“We have a big commitment to veterans,” she says.
To be listed in the Honor Roster, veterans need to submit their name, rank, branch of service, dates of service and hometown. They also need to designate whether the veteran was a “war” or “era” veteran. An era veteran is someone who served during the Vietnam War but did not serve in the country of Vietnam.
Information should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for submission of information is Dec. 15. Anyone with questions about the project or who is interested in becoming a member of the Ninian Edwards DAR Chapter can call (618) 972-1522 or access the DAR website at www.dar.org.