|By Sam Venable, The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Backyard cookout, perhaps? Ski trip to the lake? Company golf tournament? Maybe gather with family and friends for neighborhood fireworks at dark-thirty?
But what he'll be reading -- not to mention where and why -- is the stuff of goose bumps.
"You can run out of 'greats-' trying to recite the actual lineage," Croft told me with a laugh as he conversed via phone from his office in
"He lived in
Croft, 68, an attorney who specializes in insurance benefits, holds the volunteer office of "president-general" of a tiny association called DSDI.
As in Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Compared to the hundreds of thousands of members in larger historical groups --
Currently 1,350 are on roll.
Despite this relatively small number, they come from all 50 states and several foreign countries.
It's one thing to have a distant family member who inked his signature on parchment in 1776. But to be recognized by DSDI, applicants must have a direct lineal tie.
Of the 56 signers, 14 left no progeny. That makes for significant trimming of potential family trees.
"Yes, it does come as a disappointment for some applicants," Croft acknowledged. "Certainly, many people can claim a legitimate link through ancestors like a brother, uncle or cousin. But for our purposes, they must be directly descended."
Members gather at historic U.S. sites for spring and fall meetings, but their biggie always centers around
"We're not a political group," said Croft -- who, by the way, was a defensive end for the
(For details about DSDI, membership information, scholarship programs and commemorative activities sponsored by the group, see www.dsdi1776.com.)
And happy birthday to all Americans -- no matter who your forefathers were.
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