By Susan Tebben
With so many men and women deployed in military action throughout the world, remembering wars from centuries ago can be difficult.
But for 120 years, the Mahoning chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution has been trying to keep an eye on the past and the patriotism from the creation of the country.
“They bought our freedom for us, and we have to keep that alive,” said Ileene Rozich, a three-time regent for the chapter and member since 1979.
The Mahoning chapter was organized on April 18, 1893, by Rachel Wick Taylor, as only the second chapter in Ohio and the 64th created in the country. The organization now has 3,000 chapters in the U.S. and Washington D.C., along with international chapters in countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan, according to DAR literature.
Since its inception, the Mahoning DAR has made its mark on the Valley in service projects – most notably flag distribution at naturalization ceremonies at the Mahoning County Courthouse – and physical monuments. A bronze plaque just inside the courthouse was purchased by the Mahoning DAR to honor Revolutionary soldiers of the county, according to DAR documents.
The chapter endured even through the Youngstown riots of 1968 after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Members met April 9, 1968, a day after the riots took over Youngstown. It was the year they celebrated their 75th anniversary as a chapter.
“Circumstances beyond our control made this a most unusual DAR day,” wrote Kathryn B. Reed, a former state director for the Northeast district of the DAR, in documents provided by DAR members. “On the evening of the eighth, Youngstown was besieged with riots, but  members and guests drove through a deserted city on the ninth for the anniversary celebration.”
They met behind locked doors using candles to light their way.
The city has changed, but the important services the organization holds dear have remained the same.
“Women have been presenting flags [to new American citizens] since 1913,” said Carol Hubbard, a member who joined this year. “So we keep that going and preserving historic artifacts is important to us.”
Some changes have been made, such as allowing black members – some who prove relation to Thomas Jefferson – that happened in the DAR after the civil- rights movement.
As long as ancestry can be proven through physical documentation, the DAR does not turn anyone away, said Mary Altiere, regent for the Mahoning chapter.
In fact, the organization is trying new things to attract new members.
“I recognized we needed publicity, we needed to be seen as a viable organization,” Altiere said. “We’re really hoping to increase our younger members because without it, organizations die.”
The organization has many 50-year members and working women among its ranks, including a dentist who was one of the first female dentists in the area, Altiere said. Another member who was admitted in 1954, Helen Boone, has a master’s degree in library science. So its history includes women who stayed in the home and women who had jobs and busy lives outside the home.
“We’re trying to do something to help include those women that are too busy during the week to attend our meetings,” Altiere said. “We’re trying to organize meetings on Saturday mornings so that those women that have kids can be in the organization and still get to their kids’ activities in the afternoons.”
To garner more awareness for the group, members marched in Canfield’s Fourth of July parade and were approved by Canfield City Council to post signs at the entrances to the city recognizing the Mahoning chapter.
Current projects include the yearly Constitution Week on Sept. 17 to educate the public on the Constitution, a service-dog project to help disabled veterans and ongoing donations and help to the Tammassee DAR School, a children’s home and family service organization in South Carolina.
On April 20, the DAR Mahoning chapter will celebrate its 120th anniversary at Tippecanoe Country Club. Some of the current members already have recruited their daughters to join the organization and hope to have even more.
“It’s an organization that’s really about education,” Altiere said. “Every woman should learn about the things we talk about: history, veterans, culture, preserving your [historical] collection and … women’s issues. They are things all women should know about.”