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Five Questions With… Kelly McCain Smith

Kelly McCain Smith
Regent of the Caroline Scott Harrison Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR)

1. What will make August 17, 2019, so special?
On that day, the United States government will mark the 186th birthday of Benjamin Harrison, the nation’s 23rd president. As is done for all deceased presidents, a formal military party will place a wreath at his grave on behalf of the current president.

In celebration of President Harrison’s birthday, the Daughters of the American Revolution sponsored a large grant for restoration of the battle flag of the Indiana 70th Regiment Volunteers, the Civil War regiment Harrison personally recruited and led. The restoration is complete. In cooperation with the Indiana War Memorials Commission and Foundation, a celebration and rededication of this American artifact is planned that day at 1 p.m. at the Indiana War Memorial.

2. Tell us about the Caroline Scott Harrison Chapter, NSDAR.
I am proud to be a member of this chapter, which was founded in Indianapolis in 1894 and named for Indiana’s only first lady of the United States. It was the 91st chapter after the 1890 founding of NSDAR, and Mrs. Harrison was the national organization’s first president general.  As one of the 3,000 chapters of NSDAR, an organization with more than 188,000 members, we support patriotism, education and historic preservation. DAR is the oldest and largest women’s service organization in the U.S., and our chapter is one of the largest with 500-plus members. I invite you to visit our website to learn more about us.

3. Why preserve battle flags?
Over 127 years ago, DAR founders recognized the importance of preserving America’s historic artifacts “to perpetuate the memory and spirit of the men and women who achieved American independence” for future generations. Battle flags are the fabric of that intent because they represent the human threads that made this nation. From the fields of Concord, Valley Forge and Yorktown, to Gettysburg and Omaha Beach, battle flags represent the generations of men and women who sacrificed their lives and fortunes for freedom. The threads of these flags connect us to our patriot ancestors who laid the path to a free life for us and created the richness of American culture.

Brigadier General J. Stewart Goodwin, USAF (Ret.), Executive Director Indiana War Memorials said, “There is nothing we accomplish at the Indiana War Memorial that is more important than conserving Battle Flags. One hundred years from now, this is what they will remember.”

Through organizations of likeminded stewardship, such as the Indiana War Memorials Commission and Foundation, our mission is to ensure that these flags will survive as part of the living history of an independent and free people.

4. Who else was involved in this project?
Other organizations were the Indiana War Memorials Commission; Indiana War Memorials Foundation; National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Special Projects Grants and Historic Preservation Committees; Indiana Daughters of the American Revolution; and the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.

5. How can today’s citizens support historic preservation?
All of us can do this in many ways:

  • Identify opportunities to engage and inspire young people about America’s history through interactive education beyond the classroom, in museums, historic places and activities.
  • Donate funds for the preservation of artifacts, objects and places that tell our collective story.
  • Support organizations that commit to historic preservation through volunteerism and positive actions that create an impact.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Benjamin Harrison’s 186th Birthday Wreath Ceremony
Saturday, August 17, 2019
11 a.m.
Crown Hill Cemetery – Harrison gravesite
700 West 38th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46208
Free American flags and refreshments

Rally Round the Flag!
Benjamin Harrison’s Indiana 70th Regiment Volunteer Civil War Battle Flag Rededication
Saturday, August 17, 2019
1 p.m.
Indiana War Memorial Auditorium
55 East Michigan St, Indianapolis, IN 46204
Free self-guided tours of the museum after the ceremony

Benjamin Harrison’s 186th Birthday Celebration
Visit the home of the 23rd president
Tuesday, August 20, 2019
10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
1230 North Delaware Street, Indianapolis 46202
Free first-floor tours and birthday treats