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HomeAt Home & BeyondBells Across America Marks Anniversary of the Constitution

Bells Across America Marks Anniversary of the Constitution

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On Saturday, September 17 at Brooksville Commons, the Winding Waters chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) celebrated the 235th anniversary of the Constitution of the United States. That was the day back, in 1787, when the Constitutional Convention finalized the document that would serve as the United States’ blueprint for governing its citizens. The ceremony kicked off Constitution Week, which ran from the 17th of September to the 23rd. This week commemorates a very important part of our history that was first established by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956.

The Daughters of the American Revolution is a national organization with local chapters made up of women who have ancestors that either fought in the War of Independence or played an important part in that effort. The group was founded in 1890 in response to the male population not allowing women to be members of the Sons of the Revolution. Besides celebrating their lineage, the organization has committees that study different phases of the Revolutionary War period, do presentations on Native American and African-Americans of that time, and conduct literacy programs at disadvantaged schools. In addition, they go into the schools and educate students on such important facets of our history as the Declaration of Independence and Constitution and promote patriotism among our young people. They even have a museum in Washington D.C.

Susan Gundersen, chairperson of this first Bells Across America commemoration stated that the DAR plans to make this an annual event. Ms. Gundersen is related to Henry Connolly, who was a Captain in the North Carolina militia who fought at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.

Other DAR members, dressed in clothing of the Colonial period, discussed their ancestors. Suzy Machamer’s relative was Solomon Webster. He was a First Lieutenant in the 14th Battalion out of Maryland under George Washington’s command.

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Sharron Balser, Chaplain of the local chapter, is related to John Abbott, a First Lieutenant from Massachusetts.

Connie Crum’s ancestor was George Hossler, a fifer from Pennsylvania. She was dressed as Penelope Barker, who organized the Edenton Tea Party, a group of fifty North Carolinian women. Unlike the Boston Tea Party that took place a year earlier, these women boycott all British goods, not just tea. This boycott, which began without their husband’s knowledge, was one of the first instances of political action organized and enacted by women. They inspired women throughout the colonies to do the same and the protest lasted throughout the war. They gave up wearing fancy dresses made with material imported from England. Instead the wore dresses made from homespun cloth and switched from drinking tea to drinking coffee, secured by privateers in the Caribbean.

Pastor Jerry Campbell opened the ceremony with an invocation. Then members of the Marine Corps League Honor Guard presented the colors (paraded the U.S. and the Marine Corps flags). County Commissioner Jeff Holcomb read a proclamation by the Board of County Commissioners establishing Constitution Week, while City Councilman Blake Bell read a similar proclamation from the Brooksville City Council.

At precisely 4 pm the bells rang out at First United Methodist Church of Brooksville, adjacent to Brooksville Commons. Members of the audience also rang small bells provided by the DAR. This was significant because in colonial days the ringing of bells in churches, firehouses and other public buildings would call people together to alert them to some important announcement or event.

The ceremony ended with Pastor Campbell reading the prayer that George Washington prayed when the Constitutional Convention finalized the Constitution. Part of the prayer stated, “…that God would incline the hearts of the citizens to… entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another.”

For information on the Winding Waters Chapter of the DAR go to www.windingwatersdar.com.

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