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State Regent visits local DAR

By ZOË WATKINS - zwatkins@t-g.com
Posted 1/28/23

The Daughters of the American Revolution State Regent, Emily Robinson, visited the Shelby Chapter on Wednesday to give an update on several state projects.

Robinson joined DAR in 1999 as a …

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State Regent visits local DAR


The Daughters of the American Revolution State Regent, Emily Robinson, visited the Shelby Chapter on Wednesday to give an update on several state projects.

Robinson joined DAR in 1999 as a member of the Cumberland Chapter in Nashville. An eighth generation Tennessean, she now serves as state regent.

She spoke as guest speaker for the joint meeting that hosted not only the Shelbyville chapter but chapters from Tullahoma, Lewisburg (the Robert Lewis Chapter), and Fayetteville (Kings Mountain Messenger Chapter).

“You have all worked hard to achieve our DAR objectives of preserving history, education, and patriotism,” said Robinson.

The Tennessee poem

One of the main projects TNDAR is working on is preserving the 50th anniversary of Tennessee’s State Poem, called “Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee,” written by Naval Vice Admiral William Porter Lawrence.

A “Tennessee boy,” Lawrence grew up in Nashville. After turning down a scholarship from Yale, Lawrence joined the U.S. Naval Academy. He was a top student and top athlete, according to Robinson, eventually becoming a pilot in the Korean War.

In fact, he was one of the finalists in the Mercury Program, which was the first human spaceflight program of the U.S. However, a slight heart murmur prevented him from joining the program.

After becoming a test pilot for the Navy, he served in the Vietnam War as a combat pilot. While flying on a mission as one of the commanders, his plane was shot and captured by the Vietnamese. He was held at the Hanoi Hilton for six years.

“It was while he was at the Hanoi Hilton—when they found out he was doing something with the codes they had—they put him in solitary confinement for 60 days,” Robinson retold.

It was in those days, not knowing if he was going to make it through, that he wrote the Tennessee poem. It was most likely written in his head until he could capture the words on paper in 1973.

Robinson, through tears, read the well-beloved prose that many Tennesseans have come to identify with.

Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee

What Love and Pride I Feel for Thee.

You Proud Ole State, the Volunteer,

Your Proud Traditions I Hold Dear.

I Revere Your Heroes

Who Bravely Fought our Country's Foes.

Renowned Statesmen, so Wise and Strong,

Who Served our Country Well and Long.

I Thrill at Thought of Mountains Grand;

Rolling Green Hills and Fertile Farm Land;

Earth Rich with Stone, Mineral and Ore;

Forests Dense and Wild Flowers Galore;

Powerful Rivers that Bring us Light;

Deep Lakes with Fish and Fowl in Flight;

Thriving Cities and Industries;

Fine Schools and Universities;

Strong Folks of Pioneer Descent,

Simple, Honest, and Reverent.

Beauty and Hospitality

Are the Hallmarks of Tennessee.

And O'er the World as I May Roam,

No Place Exceeds my Boyhood Home.

And Oh How Much I Long to See

My Native Land, My Tennessee.

On the TNDAR website, there is a lesson plan available to teach young students about the story of Admiral Lawrence and the Tennessee poem.

Patriot book project

Robinson also talked about the Patriot Book Project where individuals from each chapter will be writing a page of information about their ancestors—that is, patriots who fought in the American Revolution that lived in Tennessee. This information will be complied into one bound book.

“This is not an easy project,” said Robinson. “This is not stories about them. This is a researched document so that way we can bring to light who these men and women were.”

Tennessee artist David Wright was commissioned to do the artwork. More information about purchasing the book can be found at https://tndar.org.

‘Project blanket’

Robinson also mentioned “Project Blanket Tennessean Love,” which provides either new or handmade blankets to “wherever there is a need,” such as nursing homes, veteran services, and women’s services. It is done chapter-by-chapter.