The Courtney-Spalding Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution met Saturday afternoon at Hays Public Library for its chapter meeting.
Membership in DAR is for women over the age of 18 who can prove descent from an ancestor who aided in achieving American Independence. The Courtney-Spalding Chapter was organized in April 26, 1926, and its current goals stress membership growth, conservation, American History and Good Citizenship Awards to further the education and historic values of youth. The chapter focuses on U.S. flag presentations, supporting patriotism throughout the nation and supporting troops in Project Patriot.
Their meeting on Saturday began with the opening DAR rituals.
“To perpetuate the memory and spirit of the men and women who achieved American independence; to promote the development of an enlightened public opinion and to foster patriotic citizenship; these are objects of our society, Daughters of the American Revolution,” read Sherrie Smith, chapter regent.
The chaplain and members followed along with their parts in the opening rituals which included the Pledge of Allegiance, The American’s Creed and The Daughter’s Pledge.
As March is Women’s History Month, the chapter meeting had an emphasis on women past and present who contributed to and help to preserve national pride.
First, a presentation by Lucy Bain, HPL, documented the history of The Harvey House Girls who helped to civilize the American west.
Approximately 5,000 women in seven years, beginning in the 1880s, moved to the American west to work as Harvey House Girls, waitresses in restaurants owned by Frank Harvey, near the train depots of the Transcontinental Railroads. Coming from the east, most of these young women had an education and brought with them a sense of culture to the wilds of the western half of the United States.
“They were American patriots,” Bain said of the Harvey House Girls. “And they had a spirit of adventure ... I like to think that if I had been in my late teens or early 20s in the 1880s or ’90s, that I would have been a Harvey Girl.”
Following Bain’s presentation, Brenda Meder, executive director of the Hays Arts Council, was presented with the DAR Women in History Award by Chapter Regent Sherrie Smith.
“March, being Women in History Month, is an ideal time to bestow the DAR Women in History Award. This award recognizes the role of women, both past and present,” Smith said. “In selecting an honoree, consideration is to be given to those women who have contributed or made a difference in their communities; those who are or have been intellectual, educational, social, religious, political, scientific or cultural innovators.”
Smith displayed a slide show while she discussed Meder’s upbringing and accomplishments leading up to becoming executive director of the Hays Arts Council, as well as her many successes and awards in the 27 years she has held that position.
“What is most important to Brenda, though, is her work done in schools with children,” Smith said.
Smith cited Meder’s work with “Famous Figures” — an annual historical performance contest for fifth graders — annual creative writing awards for children in kindergarten through 12th grade, and expanded school outreach programs such as “How Freedom Works,” a presentation on the branches of government and their role in the process of how a bill becomes a law.
Smith also noted Meder’s love of theater and her work in that avenue through the years.
“She promotes and educates a variety of civic groups on women in history through her first-person historical portrayals of such notable individuals as Emily Dickinson and Abigail Adams,” Smith said. “In her spare time, she has performed character roles in community and college productions and has had great success directing plays for various school and community productions.”
According to Smith, Meder’s crowning achievement is that she is the mother of two sons, Nate and Heath, and the grandmother of one grandson and two granddaughters.
Members of Meder’s family were present to watch her accept the award on Saturday.
“It is with great pleasure that the Courtney-Spalding Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution now presents Brenda K. Braun Meder with the DAR women in history certificate and medal for her many contributions to our community and the people of Kansas,” Smith said.
Meder accepted her award and said while she is honored, she always just does what she is supposed to do and doesn’t feel she does more than any other person.
“I really, really appreciate this honor,” Meder said. “But sometimes it’s hard to take these things, because everybody leaves their mark. Some marks are little, some marks are big, some marks are quiet and some marks change the world. It’s just too bad not everyone has the opportunity to be celebrated.”
She wanted to emphasize the importance of the marks left by every person throughout his/her daily life.
“My marks are just made with a little more ‘noise,’ ” Meder said with a laugh.