The 126th Annual National Congress
SAR Magazine, Vol. 111 No. 1
July 9-13, 2016
The 126th Congress, hosted by the Massachusetts Society, July 9-13, drew 239 compatriots and guests to Boston’s Westin-Copley Place, which is at the heart of the city and within minutes of the Boston Common, the Boston Harbor and maybe a mile from Cheers bar in one direction and Fenway Park in another.
Known for its history — the city was founded in 1630 — Boston is home to the Old North Church, Paul Revere’s home and the site of the Boston Massacre. Friday afternoon featured a Duck Tour — a land and sea tour of the city and Fanueil Hall. Much of the day Saturday was set aside for a journey to Lexington and Concord battlefields. The welcome reception was hosted by the Massachusetts Society and held in the Essex North room of the hotel.
The Westin Copley
The Sunday morning Trustees meeting included discussion of the allocation of monies from a family estate that originally was earmarked for the Eagle Scout Scholarship competition. After several amendments and a 26-26 vote, it was resolved that the first payment should go to the Eagle Scouts, but a second gift, received after a codicil was discovered, should be divided among the other seven youth award programs.
The Sunday Memorial Service was held at the Old South Church, a block from the hotel. The Ladies Tea and Open House also was held at the Old South Church, following the service. Sunday night’s highlight, once again drawing a near-capacity crowd, was the finals of the Joseph Rumbaugh Orations Contest. The five finalists were drawn from a field of 18 state winners.
Paul R. Callanan, chairman of the NSSAR Congress Planning Committee, and Michael E. Fishbein, chairman of the Massachusetts Planning Committee, directed the event, which included numerous special breakfasts, high-level committee meetings and interaction with the many youth contest participants.
Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, a MASSAR Compatriot, offered welcoming remarks. The retired colonel in the Massachusetts National Guard, television host and male model fired up the crowd with his conservative humor and panache. Following Brown’s exit, which he said was for a television interview, numerous groups extended greetings, including DAR President General Anne Turner Dillon; Massachusetts State Regent Holly Stone Blair; C.A.R. National President Conner Jackson, the son of Compatriot Hans Jackson; and General President Mitchell Bush of the Sons of the Revolution.
Others bringing greetings included the merican Legion, the General Society of the War of 1812, Mayflower Descendents and the New England Genealogical Society.
Left, J. Michael Tomme Sr., accompanied by his wife, Cilla, was sworn in as President General; below left, Keitha Callanan of Michigan presented the George Washington Ring. Paul Callanan, not pictured, was the lead guard; below right, the George Washington ring worn by the President General.
New Officers Elected
In the only contested elections of the Congress, Warren Alter of the Arizona Society defeated Kansas Compatriot Randy Ellis for the office of Treasurer General. Elected by acclamation were President General J. Michael Tomme Sr. (Georgia), Secretary General Larry T. Guzy (Georgia), Chancellor General Davis Lee Wright (Delaware), Genealogist General John D. Sinks (District of Columbia), Registrar General Russell F. DeVenney Jr. (Missouri), Historian General John T. Manning (New Hampshire), Librarian General C. Bruce Pickett (Alabama), Surgeon General Dr. Larry M. Leslie (Kentucky) and Chaplain General Rev. Louis V. Carlson Jr. (California).
John L. Dodd of California and President General (2012-2013) Stephen A. Leishman of Delaware were elected to the SAR Foundation Board. Later nominated to the Executive Committee were Douglas C. Collins of Kentucky, Callanan, Michael J. Elston of Virginia, and Presidents General Lindsey C. Brock (2014-2025) of Florida and Thomas E. Lawrence (2015-2016) of Texas.
Business Sessions Conducted
Following the posting of the colors by the combined SAR Color Guard and an invocation by Chaplain General Rev. Dr. James C. Taylor, Secretary General Tomme led the Pledge of Allegiance and the Pledge to the SAR. The seven Presidents General in attendance presented comments, led by Henry N. McCarl (2004-2005) of Massachusetts. Other Presidents General present were Nathan E. White Jr. (2006-2007), attending his 21st consecutive Congress; David N. Appleby (2008-2009); Judge Edward F. Butler Sr. (2009-2010); J. David Sympson (2010-2011); Joseph W. Dooley (2013-2014); and Lindsey C. Brock (2014-2015).
Above, First Lady Mickey Jo Lawrence was presented the Daughters of Liberty Award; at right, President General (2008-2009) David Appleby and his wife, Raylene, enjoyed a laugh on the dance floor; below, the George Washington Ring Ceremony with the Color Guard of the Massachusetts Society, and First Ladies gathered in Boston for a photo.
Tuesday evening’s featured speaker was Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor Emeritus Peter S. Onuf of the University of Virginia. He spoke on the idea, presented by Jefferson, that America was an “empire of ideas” in promoting Americans to look west toward the future instead of east toward the past (England).
A special guest prior to the banquet was an actor portraying a living statue of Jefferson, who along with John Adams wrote the Declaration of Independence. Adams and Jefferson grew to become political rivals and both died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration’s signing. In addition to the early Congress tours, Wednesday included a trip to the U.S.S. Constitution and the Adams National Parks, focusing on the lives of President Adams, Abigail Adams and the couple’s son, President John Quincy Adams.