WILTON — Several Connecticut members of the Daughters of the American Revolution joined their colleagues from around the world for the group’s annual convention, which, in a historic first, was conducted online June 24-28.

Attending the Virtual 129th DAR Continental Congress were Lee Ann Schneider, Regent, Drum Hill DAR; Mary Bendix, Southwest District Director CT DAR; Louise Wagner, CTDAR Grants Chair; and Alice Schroeder, Drum Hill Patriot Records Project, historian, chaplain, and historic preservation chair.

National, state and chapter leaders as well as other members meet during the summer to report on the year’s work, honor outstanding award recipients, plan future initiatives and reconnect with friends. There are business sessions, committee meetings and social functions.

Among those honored this year were Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch, who received the DAR History Award Medal and provided the keynote remarks. He told his audience the country is living through two pandemics: COVID-19 and racism.

“We do not have to stay trapped by the past,” he said. “As surely as our reality today is informed by our history, the choices that we make now can help us craft a better future but only if we hold ourselves collectively accountable.” He said as a nation we must face the lessons of the past and commit our attention and resources to pieces of the American stories that have been overlooked.

The organization also honored Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. for his PBS series, “Finding Your Roots.” After tracing his ancestors to West Virginia, he found they were free Blacks. He had an ancestor who fought in the American Revolution and thus is a Son of the American Revolution.

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in 1890 to promote historic preservation, education and patriotism. Its members are descended from the patriots who won American independence during the Revolutionary War. With more than 185,000 members in approximately 3,000 chapters worldwide, DAR is one of the world’s largest and most active service organizations.

“We are not your grandmother’s D.A.R.,” Schneider said. “We are an inclusive lineage society who welcome anyone regardless of race or religion, who can prove lineage to an ancestor who aided in the fight for freedom.

“Our Patriot Records Project is exciting. We are finding and identifying Revolutionary War patriots. The project brings the exploits of the American patriot who sacrificed so much, to light,” she continued.

The project began with the Continental Loan Books of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and New York. The Continental Loan Books contain names of men, women and businesses who helped finance the War for Independence.

“The Patriot Records Project is available as part of the DAR Genealogy Research System. The index is being made possible by the countless hours of indexing done by D.A. R. member volunteers who ‘rise and shine’ to accomplish this endeavor,” she said.

For information, visit Drumhilldar.org.