History of the Dream
The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution and The Center for Advancing America's Heritage
"These words dictate what the Sons of the American Revolution ought to be, what it can be, and what it must be: the preserver and standard bearer of our heritage and a humble messenger to the world of the blessings of freedom, liberty, and opportunity."
President General 2002-03
The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution is a patriotic organization formed in 1889 and chartered by the United States Congress in 1906. SAR has more than 28,000 members living in all of the 50 states and 23 foreign countries.
Throughout its 120-year history, SAR has admitted more than 170,000 members. Among them are 16 Presidents of the United States, including both Bushes, Carter, Ford, Johnson, Eisenhower, Truman and both Roosevelts. SAR also has among its members Sir Winston Churchill and King Juan Carlos I of Spain, both of whom trace their ancestry to Revolutionary War patriots.
The SAR and many other lineage organizations derive from that period of time after the Civil War and before 1900 when the USA, already a powerful nation, shed its hemispheric isolation and burst upon the international scene. It was the time of Centennial celebrations, and Americans, as well as others peoples, began to recognize the success of the American experiment. It was the time of the liberation of Cuba and the Philippines from Spanish colonial rule in order to establish democratic governments. It was the time of the "great white fleet," the Panama Canal and, of course, Compatriot President Theodore Roosevelt. As a nation, America was oozing confidence that our democratic system was working. Americans were proud of what our ancestors had accomplished, and we were determined to memorialize their accomplishments as examples for newcomers to emulate.
The SAR was just 17 years old when on June 9, 1906; it received its Congressional Charter signed by President Theodore Roosevelt. Our Congressional Charter contains the same mission statements as appear in our modern constitution:
In summary the mission of the SAR is to promote patriotism and the values and principles upon which our country was founded.
- To perpetuate the memory of those patriots
- To unite and promote fellowship among their descendants
- To inspire them and the community-at-large with a more profound reverence for the
principles of the government founded by our forefathers
- To encourage historical research
- To acquire and preserve records, relics and landmarks
- To mark the scenes of the Revolutiono To celebrate the anniversaries
- To foster true patriotismo To maintain and extend the institutions of American freedom
The SAR has an enviable record of accomplishments; here are some areas of our national heritage in which the SAR had a significant role:
- Establishment of Constitution Day, September 17th
- " Instrumental in securing appropriations from the United State Congress for the restoration of "Old Ironsides"
- " Over 1,000,000 copies of "Information for Immigrants Concerning the United States" was distributed in 15 languages and later adopted for use by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Labor as the official publication given to immigrants newly arrived to America
- Establishment of Flag Day, June 14th
- Establishment of the National Archives Building in 1913 for the storage and preservation the
nation's official manuscripts and records
- Worked to secure an appropriation from U.S. Congress to provide for a fitting sepulcher for
Admiral John Paul Jones on the return of his remains in 1905 to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis
Today, the SAR still pursues all of our missions. Our national youth programs continue to grow, our elementary school age Americanism Poster Contest, our Eagle Scout Scholarship Competition, the Joseph S. Rumbaugh Historical Oration Contest are just a few, more information may be found on our sar.org website on all of our Education based competition and recognition programs under the Education/Youth tab.
However there is one part of our mission - the one about inspiring the community-at-large - that requires a different approach than at our founding.
A November 20, 2008 report by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute's National Civic Literacy Board entitled "Our Fading Heritage…Americans Fail a Basic Test on Their History and Institutions" shows that during a random sample of American adults of all backgrounds:
- " Less than half can name all three branches of the government
- " Only 21% know that the phrase "government of the people, by the people, for the people" comes from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
- " Although Congress has voted twice in the last eight years to approve foreign wars, only 53% know that the power to declare war belongs to Congress. Almost 40% incorrectly believe it belongs to the President.
How can we not but agree with the Institute's statement "If we fail to teach our children how American freedom was established and preserved, we cannot expect them to pass it on to future generations.
Today, the SAR has to do more than just set itself up as a model of good citizenship for others to follow. Expanding outreach education from what is now done by volunteers in states and chapters to that planned in conjunction with professionals at The Center For America's Heritage requires the understanding and support of every member. In 1776 our ancestors recognized that only united action could save them from becoming an increasingly disenfranchised class. The situation now is not so extreme, but let all members remember the principle and the benefit of united action. The SAR can only make use of effective communications that bring SAR resources into our homes and reach and teach the entire nation if all members contribute financial resources for the new Center.
The SAR's vision of the future is based on successful completion of the capital campaign in the years ahead and the development of The Center for Advancing America's Heritage. When completed, the Center will dramatically increase the educational support of civic literacy around the United States.
The educational staff will develop programs and exhibits that teach American values and unity in one overriding American cultural identity. The history of American Revolution and the founding of the U.S. government and how this translates in to today's society will be the focus of the lessons taught.
SAR educational programs, utilizing new mass communications techniques will be distributed to states and chapters for their local use in meetings/events and at schools.
The Center will have world class exhibit areas designed to inspire visitors to value their American citizenship. Visitors, researchers and scholars will be welcomed to enjoy and study the SAR's collections, artifacts and exhibits.
When completed The Center for Advancing America's Heritage will become one of the SAR's most important gifts to our nation, providing outreach education for New Generations.
TELL ME - and I forget…
TEACH ME - and I remember…
INVOLVE ME - and I learn…