Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

Past National Encampment Report of
Commander-in-Chief James B. Pahl

2007 - 126th National Encampment
St. Louis, Missouri
August 10 - 12


National Officers, Delegates, and Brothers attending the 126th National Encampment of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War:

At the 125th National Encampment of our Great Order, I was honored and privileged to be elected by you, to the office of Commander-in-Chief. I humbly accepted, to honor not only my own ancestor, but the 2.5 million men who left their homes, to serve. That has been my goal, to be of service to our Departments, Camps and Brothers.

Then outgoing Commander-in-Chief Don Darby told me this job would be two weeks of silly grin, followed by fifty weeks of scowl, as I dealt with the business of the Order. Brothers, I stand here today and tell you, I never lost the silly grin. There have been a few sleepless nights as I struggled with hard decisions, which some of you did not agree, but I put forth the effort of my entire being to serve and protect the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

I want to thank the elected and appointed officers and our Executive Director, who served the National Organization with me. It is largely through their efforts and dedication, we accomplished so much. You have their reports before you and will hear from each of them shortly, as to what they have done and what they propose. Taken together, these reports constitute the current state of our Order. I know you will give these details your full attention.

I also want to take a moment to honor those who served in the office of Department Commander during my tour of duty. I thank you very much.

I set as my goal, to attend as many Department Encampments as I could. For those I could not attend, I attempted to be represented by an elected National officer, to assist each Department in the transaction of their business.

The quarterly reports submitted by the Department Commanders, the Department and Camp newsletters I received (and I read everyone - cover to cover), along with my travels to several of our Departments and the reports received from National officers attending Department Encampments for me - showed me - much more than I anticipated - what a wonderful and dedicated group of brothers we have in this Order.

I have a few suggestions for those who follow and a recommendation for your consideration.

Moving on - We face many challenges in the times ahead. The monuments and memorials erected by the Grand Army of the Republic and the Allied Orders are being threatened by the ravages of time, vandalism and political correctness. The graves of these great veterans, even entire cemeteries, are disappearing. Our battlefields are being lost to the greed of commercial development. Our schools are abandoning the teaching of history. The names of Lincoln, Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Logan, Thomas and others, are being forgotten. I spoke at the National Reunion of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Mobile, Alabama two weeks ago, saying these same things. There are forces at work seeking to erase the memory of what our ancestors sacrificed so much to do. I pledged to the SCV, that I would encourage (and I am encouraging) our Camps and Departments to offer cooperation in preserving our monuments and cemeteries. That we would invite the local commands of the SCV to our events and would support theirs.

We are making progress in locating the graves of our ancestors. Monuments are being cleaned and restored. Several other groups have joined with us to preserve our battlefields. Our educational programs, ROTC and Eagle Scout awards help educate our youth and prepare them to assume leadership some day - but I wonder if we are holding our own against the onslaught being directed against us.

Ten years from now, will those who meet here and look back at what we did, shake their heads and wonder where our heads were, or will they be able to look proudly upon the foundation we built, for them to build an even greater Order upon?

Gentlemen - We are the answer - it is within our hands, within our grasp. We need to lead our Order to greater heights - the sacrifices of the 390,000 Union veterans who died in service, 280,000 more who were wounded - demand no less. Thank you.

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