To celebrate the National Society’s 125th Anniversary and the culmination of the Celebrate America! volunteer service initiative, the DAR channeled its fervor for patriotism and dedicated support of our nation’s military service members toward an ambitious goal. During the week of the 125th Continental Congress, held in June at DAR’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, the organization set an official GUINNESS WORLD RECORDSTM title in patriotism for “most letters to military personnel collected in one month.”
DAR members possess an unwavering patriotic devotion that spans the organization’s 125-year history. During the past three years alone, Daughters have devoted more than 2.2 million hours of service to veterans, honored more than 288,000 Vietnam War veterans, and donated more than $250,000 in support of active duty service members and their families. The GUINNESS WORLD RECORDSTM attempt served as a test: Could the membership exceed its already high standards of support for our military?
Achieving this ambitious goal required the National Society to collect and then mail at least 10,000 letters to active-duty service members. Daughters across the country rallied in support of the effort. Members of the Doctor Susan Anderson Chapter in Arvada, Colorado, contributed by collecting letters to add to the total. Many DAR members wrote personal messages, but because individuals could write only one letter each, they also enlisted help from members of the community.
As dictated by the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDSTM guidelines, all letters had to be handwritten, addressed to an active duty service member, placed inside a stamped, unsealed envelope, and delivered in person to one of the designated stations set up at DAR Headquarters. Chapter Regent, Cheryl Heyen, brought the chapter’s letters to Washington, D.C., and hand-delivered them to a collection station. Letters of appreciation filled more and more boxes as the week progressed, and an official GUINNESS WORLD RECORDSTM adjudicator arrived to conduct the verification process.
The carefully tallied total was revealed at the National Defense Night ceremony on Saturday, June 18, 2016. As thousands in attendance waited to learn the outcome of the attempt, members surprised them by carrying in box after box to give a visual representation of how many letters were submitted. The adjudicator took the stage to announce the results using a number tally on the big screen. Cheers increased as soon as the number topped 10,000, but then the audience, including the night’s special guests, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald and the USO President and CEO, Dr. J.D. Crouch, all went wild when the tally surpassed 100,000. The DAR had collected 100,904 letters, more than 10 times the minimum threshold needed to set the record for most letters to military personnel collected in one month!
“Congratulations—you are officially amazing!” the adjudicator proclaimed.
This record-setting achievement provides the latest measure of the collective force of the DAR’s appreciation for the United States Military, while simultaneously fostering human connection between the American people and those who defend our freedom. As devoted stewards of the legacy of the Revolutionary War generation, Daughters feel equally compelled to express appreciation for the valor, sacrifice and commitment of today’s active-duty service members. Each letter represents the support of a grateful nation, and the Doctor Susan Anderson Chapter is humbled by the opportunity to assist in collecting these missives to the defenders of our country.
By the end of June, all 100,904 letters will be on the way to active-duty military personnel serving both at home and abroad. May their handwritten messages of gratitude and encouragement cheer the spirits of those who have raised their right hand and sworn to defend and protect the United States of America.
The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in 1890 to preserve the memory and spirit of those who contributed to securing American independence. Any woman 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background, who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution is eligible for membership. DAR is one of the world’s largest and most active service organizations with nearly 183,000 members in approximately 3,000 chapters worldwide. These members passionately carry out the timeless mission of promoting historic preservation, education and patriotism. To learn more about the work of today’s DAR, visit www.dar.org.