Hamblen County Federation of Democratic Women


Sally Allen, a member of Hamblen County Democratic Party (HCFDW), agreed to design the table that HCFDW would enter in the 2021 GFWC Celebration of Tables. But, she wondered, what should that table design be?

Life in our country, and around the globe, has been turned upside down during the last year. The upheaval generated by the CoVid-19 virus has stopped time in its tracks. Lives, businesses, schools, government, goods, and services have been uprooted and turned upside down.

And yet, in the midst of this, Sally thought, we still persevere…especially, we women.

Led by President Edee Webb, HCFDW has continued to meet – albeit virtually- throughout the pandemic. Our organization has engaged in several safely distanced activities, including celebrating a 100-year-old event that also disrupted our nation. That event was a Celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Ratification of the 19th Amendment, the first step in giving women in our country the right to vote. It took until 1965, 45 more years, for ALL women to gain the right to vote. And it happened, only because women persevered.

It was while holding the blue plates that appear on the 2021 HCFDW table that Sally discerned what this year’s table should represent. The blue plates belonged to Betty Miller, a long-time member and a Past-President of HCFDW. If they were used on the 2021 HCFDW table, it would not be for the first time. No, those plates had been part of many other events connected to the activities and events of HCFDW.

Many disruptions happen in our lives over time. Some are huge and devastate the entire country; other things are personal and devastate us. Yet women go on. Women persevere. That is what Sally determined would be reflected in this year’s table setting.

In the photograph of this year’s HCFDW table you will see the official colors of the country, a country in which, though divided in opinion and argumentative in expression, we are united as a people ever seeking “a more perfect union.”

As a representative of the several great, disruptive events of the last 60 years, you will see a large photograph of President John F. Kennedy. Nearby is a book, “November 22, 1963: Ordinary and Extraordinary People Recall Their Reactions When They Heard the News…” The book, published in 2013, shares a collection of letters sent in response to questions posed by the author of the book, Morristown resident and member of HCFDW, Jodie Elliott Hansen and her daughter, Laura.

In the period between 1978 -1983, Jodie wrote hundreds of letters to men and women around the world asking where they were on November 22, 1963 and how they reacted to the shocking events of that day. In the letters which were returned to Jodie, many of them handwritten, are the responses of people –both ordinary and extraordinary- to the devastating news that the President had been assassinated.

Some of the letters are from internationally known celebrities like Bob Hope and Mary Tyler Moore, Arthur Miller, Julia Child, Indira Gandhi, Princess Grace of Monaco, George and Barbara Bush, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Michael Crichton, and even the deranged Charles Manson. Other letters are from ordinary people.

On the table are the blue plates and flatware that have been used several times by HCFDW for different events. They are part of the table setting as reminders that life goes on, as it did after November 22, 1963 and as it is unfolding during today’s pandemic.

The colors, the photograph, the book, the use of those blue plates and some gold ornaments scattered on the table remind us that even amid terrible things, we find comfort in familiar rituals. The table invites and anticipates the coming together of people who are not identical but who seek relationship. It reminds us that sharing food and talk helps all of us remain grounded and connected and that in such legacy moments, we find reason to celebrate, values to uphold and come to know that sense of empowerment which enables us to carry on in that which is good and right and beneficial to all. And still, we persevere, especially as women.