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Regent Rose Edwards' Inaugural Speech

May 7th 2005

We gather here to honor the great sacrifices made by our ancestors in promoting the goals of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution; Historic Preservation, Patriotism, and Education.

Congressman Paul Ryan wrote: “That we can never forget those who have allowed us to enjoy that which we have today. More than ever, we must rededicate ourselves to honor the lives and memories of those who served, fought, and died. To honor great sacrifices, celebrate heroic victories, and remember the daily freedoms many of us too often take for granted came at a painful price.”

Our chapter, Onagomingkway, is a resolution to those sacrifices made. It is also appropriate that our chapter is organized on the anniversary of VE Day honoring the heroic victories in WWII.

In looking back over the past couple of years to when I first decided to help establish a chapter here in the UP, I think about the wonderful support I received, the new friends I have made, the opportunity to grown and learn as a daughter. It has been a fantastic experience and I want to thank you all for this opportunity. I have been honored to know you, my fellow daughters.

I ran across this story a few years back and I would like to share it with you tonight as it really brings home the sacrifices made by our ancestors to win the freedoms we now celebrate.

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons who served in the Army. Another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the War. They had pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.

What kind of men were they?

  • Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants. Nine were farmers. All were men of means and well-educated, but they signed the Declaration of Independence, knowing that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
  • Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships go under the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and died in rags.
  • Thomas McKean was so hounded by the British that he had to move his family constantly. He served in Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken, and poverty was his reward.
  • Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of seven others.
  • At the Battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr. noted that the British Gen. Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged Gen. Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
  • The home of Francis Lewis was destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died a few months later.
  • John Hart was driven from the bedside of his wife. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year, he lived outdoors, returning home to find his wife dead and his children gone. He died shortly thereafter.
  • Morris and Livingston also suffered similar fates.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight and unwavering, they pledged "for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

They gave us a free and independent America. Too often we now take these liberties for granted.

So tonight I want all of us to thank these patriots and our own patriot ancestor for their heroic contributions. It is not too much to ask for the price they paid.

In the speech written by Chapter Regent, Mrs. Louise Barnum Robbins, at the organizational meeting of the Adrian, Michigan Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1909, She could not have said it any better than I:

In the performance of our patriotic work today, we pay reverent homage to the men and women who loved freedom better than riches and ease and power, and who bequeathed to us the priceless heritage of a free and munificent government. In this work we are about to assume, may we gain renewed inspiration in love of Country, and may we rejoice to go forward in a line of work that shall be a tribute to the patriots who achieved American independence.

O Real Daughter!
“A hero's blood in your veins doth run,
Daughter of one in Liberty’s strife,
This is the gift he gave to you,
A patriots heart and a patriots will,
A soul to struggle your whole life through
And to be the conqueror still.”




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