Burr Mansion hosts young patriots, honors Freedom Fighters
By Mike Lauterborn
(posted to Fairfield.Patch.com 3/6)
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.
Fairfield, CT – Dressed in conservative attire or costumes that recalled Colonial times, scores of children from all over Connecticut gathered midday Sunday to celebrate their roots and support the cause of freedom.
The draw was the 85th State Conference of the Connecticut Society Children of the American Revolution, hosted by the organization’s local chapter, the Thaddeus Burr Society, at the Burr Mansion on Old Post Road. In addition to conducting standard business such as electing next year’s officers and reporting on operations, the group memorialized relatives and military servicemen that died over the past year. An additional highlight included a wreath dedication honoring Hungarian Freedom Fighters.
Founded in 1895 by Harriett Lothrop, the C.A.R., a branch of the Daughters of the American Revolution, is the nation’s oldest and largest patriotic youth organization, offering membership to anyone under the age of 22 lineally descended from someone who served in the Continental Army or gave material aid to the cause of freedom in the American Revolution. Members pledge to carry on their descendants’ work and use their influence to create a deeper love of country, a loyal respect for the Constitution and a reverence for its flag, among young people. In Connecticut, the C.A.R. includes 365 members.
In the fall of 1956, Hungarians, led by students, revolted against the People’s Republic of Hungary and its Soviet-imposed policies. Over a two-week period, protesters and State Security Police clashed countrywide until Soviet troops crushed the uprising and installed a Soviet-led government. In the process, 2,500 Hungarians were killed and 200,000 fled the country. A monument dedicated to the freedom fighters stands in the Burr Mansion’s gardens.
“Their cause parallels our country’s own fight for freedom, and the grandmother of our state chaplain, Taylor Fischer, was one of the protesters that fled the country and was lucky enough to be relocated to America,” said Teri Fischer, the Senior State President of the C.A.R. “We really recognize any freedom causes while building leaders and citizens and asking what we can do today.”
Each annual conference is themed. This year’s had a pirate correlation to convey the message of “treasuring the past”. It was conceived by Lauren Bacon, 16, State President of the C.A.R. and a descendant of Mayflower passenger William Bradford, who said, “I wanted to get younger members involved in a fun, kid-friendly way, that makes a meeting like this more appealing.” To this regard, a “Camp C.A.R.” room was set up where young children could don pirate hats and enjoy crafts and coloring.
Helping organize the pirate-themed activities was C.A.R. Senior State Chaplain Stephanie Pruitt, 30, who has been a member since she was 10. “My relevant descendant is John Carroll Adams who fought in the American Revolution,” she said. “It’s nice to feel that your family was part of something special and I’m glad that C.A.R. reinforces that importance and connection.”
The registrar of the Fairfield-based host chapter, Betty Oderwald, said her group supports the mission of respecting veterans and instilling patriotism, through a host of outreach efforts. “In the past year, we made Valentines for Homes of the Brave veterans homeless shelter in Bridgeport, hosted a scavenger hunt in the Burr gardens and handed out favors at the town Christmas tree lighting.”
C.A.R. has had a definite impact in the life of 16-year-old Taylor Fischer, who affixed a white rose to the Freedom Fighters’ wreath in honor of her grandmother. “It has made me more interested in my past and what I can do for my country. It’s also good for developing leadership qualities, as we all need to give speeches. And you get to meet people from all over the country and learn everyone’s connections to the past.”
Fellow member Alex Kimble, 11, had a particularly relevant connection to the proceedings, as a descendant of Thaddeus Burr, who established Burr Mansion. “It’s kind of interesting to learn about my own history and meet other people with histories like mine. I have a good time at these meetings.”
Carol Bauby, State Registrar for the Daughters of the American Revolution, stressed the importance of groups like the C.A.R. “It’s a great start for children to learn love of country and good citizenship. My relevant ancestors include Christian Stauffer, who served under General Anthony Wayne and fought at the decisive Battle of Yorktown 250 years ago. It’s important to honor these key ancestors who fought for the freedoms we enjoy today.”