American History -- what a great class in high school. The basketball coach -- tall, handsome, humorous and what a take on history ... the history of the last basketball game, that is. I really only remember discussing the Dred-Scott decision in that high school class. I was a pretty good student and dearly loved history, but, let's face it, at that age, there were more pressing issues.

And now I realize that American history is fascinating. I love to read historical fiction and histories of any kind, but my early education was sorely lacking. Years ago, I might have thought it made no difference. After all, what difference should it make, because it is long gone? Wrong again. History is all about us as Americans. Let us hope we never forget where we have been as a nation so we will know where we should go. It is crucial to remember our past to safeguard our future.

Every now and then, we see or hear of a true "guardian of history." The Daughters of the American Revolution is only one of many great examples. We might read that they have done something or other, been in a parade or about a national concert at Constitution Hall in Washington. We even have the Courtney-Spalding Chapter of the National Society of DAR here in Hays.

But who or what is this DAR?

The Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in 1890 by four women who each had fathers or grandfathers who were patriots of the American Revolution. These women created an organization that would "perpetuate the memory and spirit of the women and men who achieved American independence." More than 165,000 members are in 3,000 chapters across the world. 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.

With headquarters in Washington, this non-profit, non-political volunteer women's service organization is dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history and securing America's future through better education for children. More than 60,000 hours are given annually to veteran patients, more than $150,000 in scholarships and financial aid each year to students and more than $1 million in donations to support schools for the underprivileged and American Indian youth, and other projects.

Encompassing an entire downtown city block, DAR National Headquarters includes one of the nation's foremost genealogical libraries, premier collections of pre-industrial American decorative arts, Washington's largest concert hall and an extensive collection of early American manuscripts and imprints. These National Historic Landmarks have hosted historic and cultural events for more than a century. The annual gathering of DAR members, the 117th Continental Congress, will be July 9 through 13.

In May, the Courtney-Spalding Chapter honored Isabella Artman for her 50 year membership as a Daughter of the American Revolution. She spoke of her early memories as a child coming home from school as her grandmother hosted the local DAR members. From early childhood, she was endowed with a familial and historical interest. Artman has traced her lineage to four patriots of the American Revolution. Her three daughters have followed her as DAR members.

Each year, the Hays chapter sponsors the annual Good Citizens Award and essay for northwest Kansas high school students, genealogy workshops, donations to our service men and women, flag awards, assistance to three American Indian schools, and other state and local activities. Artman has been an active member and participant in the Courtney-Spalding Chapter and example in living the DAR motto "God, Home, and Country."

Ruth Moriarity, Hays, is a Generations Advisory Group member, DAR member and retired RN.