Daughters of Confederacy proud of rebel roots
by Coty Dolores Miranda
Sept. 4, 2010
Special for The Republic
Southeast Valley members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy don’t buy political correctness.
Guided by their group’s motto of "Love, live, pray, think, dare," they’re proud of their ancestral roots to veterans or civil-service members who honorably served the Confederate States of America.
Like other members of the 116-year-old national organization, they’re proud of the word Confederacy in the name despite its negative connotation for others.
Charter member LoriSteadman of Gilbert, an English and history teacher for more than 23 years, said she often reminds her middle school students that they "can’t judge the past by today’s morals and values."
"I’m proud that my ancestors fought for what they believed in, whether they were the four who came to this country on the Mayflower to have their religious freedom, the 13 who fought for their freedom from the British during the Revolutionary War, or the seven who fought to keep their property during the War Between the States," she wrote in an e-mail. "The War Between the States was not about slavery and it wasn’t about racism," she added. "In fact, there were quite a few slave owners who were Black/African-American. And most slave owners did not do harm to their slaves. Before people make ‘blanket’ statements about history, they owe it to themselves to research the truth about the past."
The group, headquartered in Richmond, Va., has chapters in 33 states.
The Arizona-New Mexico chapter will hold its meeting this month at the Ahwatukee home of its current president, Donna Rabenow, who will turn over the gavel to President-elect Stacy McSwain, a 12-year member and another Ahwatukee Foothills resident.
The chapter has 20 members with another dozen women working on documenting their lineage in order to meet the group’s admission requirement.
To become a United Daughter of the Confederacy, a woman must produce records verifying she is a descendant of a Confederate States of America veteran. These can be drawn from census records, genealogy books or other sources.
Members are culled in various ways.
"We just met a lady that had read about a memorial service in Phoenix being held by the Sons of Confederate Veterans," McSwain said. "We went to pay tribute to the veterans there and met her. She’d come to pay her respects, and now she’s trying to find her Confederate ancestor so she can join the UDC."
McSwain admits explaining the group to the uninformed takes finesse.
"I describe us as a group of women who share a Southern heritage we want to preserve and protect in an increasingly politically correct world," she said. "We each trace our lineage to a Confederate soldier or sailor who served in the War Between the States. We believe we have a fantastic history and our legacy is to see that it continues."
She says her group’s members are "just like DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) members," who revere their ancestors’ participation in the Revolutionary War.
"Same theory, different battles," McSwain said.
The group also supports veterans charities.
"Our main charity is what we can do for our veterans of all wars. Our chapter’s main project has been the Wounded Warrior Foundation."
For information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.hqudc.org.
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