2012 Convention Report

SAN ANTONIO CONVENTION 2012 DRAWS A NEW LINE IN THE SAND

The 75th Diamond Jubilee Military Order of the Stars and Bars Annual Convention was carried off in true Texan style in the beautiful city of San Antonio. With a record attendance of delegates and meaningful additions to our rituals, the Convention is poised to set the standard for coming gatherings.

The Convention Committee set out from the start to create an atmosphere of heritage, elegance, friendship and solidarity which will be remembered vividly by all fortunate enough to have attended. Seldom have we seen such a line drawn in the sand since the celebrated line was drawn in the siege of the Alamo by Colonel William Barrett Travis in that momentous March of 1836, just prior to the supreme sacrifice of the entire garrison.

Many traveled long distances to attend the convention and were rewarded by the outcome of Convention President Compatriot David Whitaker and his dedicated Team’s tireless efforts.

With delegates and their wives and many families arriving from Tuesday, June 5th onwards, the Convention gained momentum as old friendships were renewed and new bonds forged. The first day, Thursday, June 7th was predominantly business-oriented with a General Executive Council Meeting followed by a Texas Society Meeting. After setting the business scene for subsequent meetings, everyone was treated to a true Texas style steak dinner, admirably prepared by the wonderful staff at the historic Menger Hotel in Alamo Plaza, where most delegates chose to stay.

The Convention formally opened with a ceremony on the morning of Friday, June 8th. Guests were moved and excited at the introduction of the first of many new features – a magnificent Bagpiper who heralded the arrival of all and accompanied the Color Guard to the Opening ceremony. Following the pledges to the Flags, the next innovation started the Convention officially and emotionally as a roll call of Deceased Brethren was introduced and called with emotional responses from the gathering. As the honorable Deceased were saluted by the presenter, the piper struck up “Amazing Grace” and many tears appeared in delegates’ eyes. As a further tribute to the Deceased, an empty table was set for the “Missing Member”. In another “first”, James Simmons, second in command of our Union Army counterpart, M.O.L.L.U.S. was an official guest. Thus concluded the Opening Ceremony of this milestone 75th Annual Convention.

A Business Meeting followed immediately, while the ladies withdrew and were taken by the glamorous and truly elegant Lasca Bourgeois, to meet with the Menger’s Concierge and historian, Ernesto Malacara, for an fascinating tour of what is the oldest hotel west of the Mississippi, complete with a history of grand visitors including Robert E. Lee, various Presidents of the United States and other famous people. The Menger Hotel is reputedly the most haunted in America and a detailed account of the “resident spirits” entertained the ladies.

At noon, a fine luncheon was served for all, and the Convention was entertained and informed by the excellent historian, Ms. Eron Brimberry, who detailed the momentous and often painful history of the birth of the Republic of Texas. Her stirring presentation was punctuated by a re-enactor, and a trumpet player who rendered “Delguello”, the “Slit Throat” bugle call played by Santa Anna’s fourteen bands just before the final assault on the Alamo on March 6, 1836. The call means “No Quarter” – none was asked and none was given.

After an afternoon made free to explore San Antonio, the outgoing Commander General received all at a wine and cheese evening, where Texan wines and cheeses were sampled and much friendly conversation enjoyed. The highlight of this event was the awarding of the prestigious Dick Dowling award to CG Max Waldrop Jr. by Chapter Commander Ray Stocks. This function was a gift courtesy of the Texan Chapter #5, The Texas Society and the Southern Heritage Ball.

Friday opened with a moving Prayer Breakfast with dedications and inspiring thoughts imparted by Chaplain General, Raymond Holder, after which delegates assembled for the second Business Meeting and the Election of Officers. A spirited discussion of various items of the Constitution of the Order concluded this final Business session, and after a brief adjournment the Awards Luncheon commenced with the return of the ladies.

The various awards were presented and the convention adjourned until the Fiesta Dinner commenced. During a most enjoyable Mexican dinner the featured speaker, Ms. Cassy L. Gray, historian, contributing editor to the Officers Call, and writer/publisher of the splendid monthly e-zine “The Stainless Banner” gave a rousing and patriotic speech which strengthened our understanding of the need to continue the protection and commemoration of the unique Southern Heritage. A further speech was given by Miss Katie Simmons of Jacksonville, Florida, who was extremely impressive in her presentation.

The Closing ceremony then commenced, highlighted by the handing over of the leadership of the Order from Commander General Max L. Waldrop, Jr. to the Commander General Elect, Compatriot Dr. Toni Turk who will lead the next Administration. Proceeded by the awarding of the Varina Howell Davis Award to Cassy L.Gray, Linda Lee Lippencott and Mrs. Barbara Turk and the silver Robert E. Lee Chalice to Dr. Toni R. Turk, the new Commander General presented the outgoing Commander General with the General Joe Shelby Saber and Flags of the Order were exchanged. The Master of Ceremonies of the Closing Ceremony, David Whitaker, presided over the transition of Leadership, and made the final remarks, before officially declaring the convention closed. The Color Guard, immaculate as before in full Confederate Uniform, retrieved the Flags so as to officially “Retire the Colors” upon which the Piper accompanied their entrance and exit, playing “The Yellow Rose of Texas”, “Dixie”, “Will Ye No Come Back Again” and “For Auld Lang Syne”.

Thus concluded a Convention which will live on in the hearts of all who came.

In passing, the Order wishes to thank most sincerely those who were responsible for its smooth running and coordination. May we thank Convention President David Whitaker, and his dedicated wife, Dinah; the tireless and wonderfully capable Kathy Stocks and her husband, Ray; Lasca Bourgeois; George and Sheila Williamson, David’s grandchildren – Jack, Jane and David, and Kathy’s son, Shelby, for their kind assistance and dedication. Thanks also to Jim Templin and Commander Glenn Toal of the Texas Society, The Texas Chapter #5, the staff of the Menger Hotel, the great State of Texas and the delegates from other States who made the Convention the enormous success that it was.

We ask, as the Piper played so well, “Will Ye No Come Back Again?”

Roger P. Thornton, DCS
ADC International Liaison
Melbourne, Australia