By JOHN KIENER
An audience of 150 people plus an uncounted number of bells celebrated a Constitution Week program at Oak Hill School on Sunday. Numerous organizations participated in the event begun in 1955 by the Daughters of the American Revolution. This year, the 230th Anniversary of the Constitution, the celebration in Jonesborough specially remembered the soldiers who served in the Battle of Wabash, a little known but important conflict in American history.
Special guests at the event were Mrs. Joyce Cole, National leader of the Society of the Descendants of Washington’s Army at Valley Forge and Nancy Knapke, Museum Docent of the Fort Recovery, Ohio Monument Park. She talked about the effects of the battle in strengthening the United States Military.
Known by several names – St. Clair’s Defeat, Battle of Wabash or The Native American Defeat of the First American Army, out of 1,400 men engaged in the conflict, 918 were killed and 276 wounded. The casualty list included almost one-half of the entire United States Army. An account of the battle was given by Joel Dobson from Greensboro, North Carolina, a veteran of service in Vietnam.
On Sunday, a roll call of 205 names of individuals from the area who participated in the battle was read by various members of Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in East Tennessee. The DAR along with the Town of Jonesborough and the Heritage Alliance were major sponsors of the ceremony. Carol Redmond, Regent of the State of Franklin Chapter NSDAR, said “ Iwas pleased by the participation in the event.” It is her hope that people who have traced their lineage to participants in the battle will purchase memorial bricks at the Veterans Park in the Visitors Center in Jonesborough.
These ancestors may be eligible for DAR memberships. Present for the ceremony to welcome the assembly was Mayor Kelly Wolfe along with Regent Redmond. The mayor led an invocation using the hymn “Amazing Grace.” The posting of colors was performed by a ROTC color guard from David Crockett High School. Then the DCHS Choir under the direction of Kelly Davenport sang the National Anthem followed by the Pledge of Allegiance to The Flag led by then Washington County Home School Association.
Students from Jonesborough Middle School recited the Preamble to the Constitution. Children of the American Revolution were present, represented by Melodie Daniels and sons, Ivan, Cohen and Gideon. A salute to veterans by the firing of period long-rifles was given by a costumed contingent from the Overmountain Victory Trail Association.
Jules Corriere, from the McKinney Center for the Arts, gave an account of one woman’s survival in the battle in an address titled “The loss and lamentation.” Anne G’Fellers Mason, Special Projects Coordinator at the Heritage Alliance, said the program, “really went well. It is always interesting to share history with people.” She recounted “The Aftermath of Blame and Support” that took place after the battle. Members of the assembly also received “News of the Day” from an edition of the Knoxville Gazette.
The collection of bells to “make a joyful noise” in commemoration of the sacrifices made by veterans included sounds with a modern twist — cell phone bells. Jonesborough resident and member of the John Sevier-Sarah Hawkins Chapter of the NSDAR Doris Durey brought her large Swiss Bell. Teresa Ann James, State of Franklin Registrar, said she recorded church bells and played them during the bell ringing that followed the singing of “My Country Tis’ of Thee.”
James also was in charge of handing out certificates at the event. “It is the DAR’s way of showing appreciation to those who participated,” she said.
The DAR’s celebration of the Constitution resulted in Congress setting aside Sept. 17 through Sept. 23 as Constitution Week.
The resolution adopted by Congress was signed into law on Aug. 2, 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The State of Franklin NSDAR has been based in Jonesborough since 1929.
In addition to the State of Franklin and John Sevier-Sarah Hawkins Chapters other DAR organizations at the event included the Northeast TN Regent’s Council, Ann Robertson, John Carter, Julius Dugger, Kings Mountain, Long Island, Mary Patton, and Nolichucky Chapters NSDAR.
On Sept. 17, 1787, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and 31 other delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The document has established the framework to govern the nation and to protect the rights of its citizens.
After the celebration at Oak Hill School, the assembly was invited to the Historic Visitor’s Center for a short Wreath Laying Ceremony.