STATE OF THE ORDER
In August of 1999, on the 50th Anniversary of the Last Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic, held in the same beautiful city of Indianapolis, Indiana, this body elected me to the office of Commander-in-Chief. I will always be grateful of the honor you bestowed upon me. The Sons of Union Veterans is one of the finest examples of exhibiting patriotism, and devotion to one's ancestors, in the history of America. I have, and always will try to serve this organization, being mindful of its best interests.
I want to express my appreciation to all, for the invitations that were so kindly extended to me. I regret that some could not be accepted, due to conflicts with conventions scheduled on the same weekends. I believe that the National Organization was represented at most department encampments.
Through electronic mail and U.S. Mail, I have tried to address all the problems and concerns of our Order. In most cases, I believe the State of the Order is in great shape under Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty.
I would like to thank the national Counselors, Brother Pahl, and Brother Orr, for all of your professional help throughout the year. In addition, I'd like to thank Brothers Medert and Atkinson, on whom I could also call any time.
A special thank you goes to our National Secretary, Todd Shillington, a friend, and fellow Brother, for filling in, and accepting the position of National Secretary. He picked up the ball, and made my position a lot easier. This Organization cannot run, without a good staff, which helps to carry out the work of this Order. I can stand here today, and say that I had one of the best staffs that was ever assembled. I salute each and every one of you.
I started early to choose the National Staff, to give a full year of productivity, from all standing and sitting committees. The improvement in the quality of the Banner is evident, and the intent was to give the membership for issues. This year we came close. The next administration will have to work on the problems of getting the Banner to the members in a more timely manner. The dispute between Gettysburg Camp No. 112 and H.G.A.C. was finally settled on June 9, 2000. On that date, at the G.A.R. Hall, I signed the final agreement, giving the hall back to the Sons, as was originally intended. I believe that if both parties abide by this agreement, we will have saved a lot of money, by settling out of court, and by the savings realized by avoiding a protracted dispute.
National Headquarters: The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania will open around December 1, 2000. The contracts have been signed and sealed, and it will become the home and headquarters of the National Order of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. The National records that are kept in paid storage will be moved there, saving us money.
I promised the Department of Rhode Island, that if I were elected Commander-in-Chief, I would try to get their Department Charter out of the Arsenal, where it had been locked up for years. I presented it to the Department in April, and it was used at this year's Department Encampment. I would to thank Brothers Brian Guiot and Aram Plante in helping to make this successful. I also met with General Reed at the Arsenal, and as a result, the Sons of Union Veterans again have the use of the Arsenal, and can again enjoy the G.A.R. artifacts stored there. The Department of Rhode Island is again working with the National Order, on projects like updating their bylaws, in order to again comply with the Constitution and Regulations. Thanks go to Brothers Bromley and Kennedy for all their hard work in these matters.
Much work has been done in the recording and preservation of memorials, monuments, Union Soldiers' graves, and G.A.R. records. This is the future of our organization. We need to continue in this direction. I trust they will be never-ending tasks, and should always be the work that keeps this organization together, forever.
One problem was the backlogged charters. With the help of our National Secretary, I believe all charters are completed, and are now being done in a timely manner. We have had 29 new Camps this year, and I had the honor of traveling to Nebraska, to present three Camp Charters, and one new Department Charter. All in all, I feel that it has been a good year.
On the down side, I have to report that, after a year of trying to work things out, I will be signing the papers from the Department of Iowa, to dismiss Lee Booton from our organization. It became apparent that Lee Booton continued to disrupt this Order, and was not obeying the Constitution and Regulations. This decision was made after he was suspended for ten months. He continued to wear his badge, and represent the Order, after I had told him must not, until after his suspension was over. The Department of Iowa then held another trial, and again found him guilty of charges. Therefore, Lee Booton's name is to taken off the roles of the Camp, Department, and National Organization. In relation to this matter, as an organization, we need to look at the total picture, and try to work out problems on the Camp and Department levels. We need to resist bringing in those who should not necessarily be concerned. Let us try to act more mindfully under F, C, & L, and avoid going after every Brother that may not agree with us at the time. When we jump to conclusions, we use up valuable time, that could be put to better use honoring our forefathers, which we are obligated to do. It is my hope, that future Commanders-in-Chief won't have to spend much of their time on problems that could have been settled within a Camp, had cool heads prevailed.
The following is a list of my travels:
I traveled to Barre, Vermont, and gave a speech at a monument dedication.
I attended the Regional Conference meeting of New England.
I attended Remembrance Day celebrations in Gettysburg, and afterward, presided over a Council of Administration meeting.
I attended the mid-winter meetings of the Department of Indiana in January, and the Department of Wisconsin in Milwaukee in February.
On February 12th, I attended Lincoln's Birthday celebrations at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.
On February 19th, I attended a Patriotic Dinner in Jamesville, New York.
I attended the Department of Tennessee Encampment in Montgomery, Alabama, on March 17th.
On March 25th, I attended a Council of Administration meeting in Erie, Pennsylvania.
On April 8th, I attended the Department of Rhode Island's Encampment.
On April 15th, in Springfield, Illinois, I attended ceremonies observing Lincoln's death. The next day, April 16th, I attended services, and gave a speech at the grave of the G.A.R.'s founder, in Rose Hill Cemetery, Petersburg, Illinois. To do so was an honor and a privilege.
On April 29th, I attended the Department of Maryland's Encampment, and also a dedication of the Delaware Monument in Gettysburg.
April 30th brought me to Grant's Tomb, in New York City, for his birthday service.
On May 6th, I attended the Department of Michigan's Encampment.
In Big Flats, New York, I gave a talk on G.A.R. Veterans on May 17th.
On Memorial Day Weekend, May 29th and 30th, I attended services at Arlington National Cemetery.
On June 3rd, I attended the Department of New York Encampment.
On June 10th, I attended the Department of Pennsylvania Encampment.
On June 17th, I attended the Department of Ohio Encampment.
I had planned to go to the Department of Maine's Encampment. However, my Father passed away, and this prevented me from doing so. At this time, I would like to thank all of you for the cards, letters, and flowers that were sent. I will never forget the friendship shown to my family and me.
On August 7th and 8th, I attended the Convention of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, in Charleston, South Carolina, where I was well received. I feel that it is time for both organizations to work together, for the purposes of honoring our forefathers. I would like to put to rest General Orders No. 4. In addition, let it never be said that, as Commander-in-Chief, I didn't stand up and defend the majority decisions made at National Encampments. In issuing General Orders No. 4, I was defending the decision of the Encampment of 1996, and would do it again. I have no regrets.
2. I recommend that we present at least $1,000 to our Auxiliary, to help repair, and
maintain in the future, the Woolson Monument, in Ziegler's Grove in Gettysburg.
3. I recommend that we go back, and re-examine the old way of Departments and Camps receiving prospective members. I believe that the Order should advertise, and all reply postage should be paid from the advertising budget. I believe that this is what our Camps and Departments want.
4. I recommend that we also keep our new internet Membership program intact, with a Nationally set amount for dues to be included with the application.
Yours in F, C, & L,
Danny L. Wheeler
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
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