1. Many Camps are now collecting dues for the new year. Others will begin collection on another fiscal year date. Recruiting members is one of our most difficult and time consuming duties. It is essential that everyone in the Camp and Department structure exert himself to retain the members now on the rolls. I ask Department Commanders to urge camps to devote their best efforts to the retention process. I urge camp officers to diligently contact each member who gives any indication of non-renewal. I urge each Brother to prevail upon other Brothers to continue in the ranks. It used to be the practice of each good First Sergeant to remind his men that “everything will be better next enlistment.” I ask all Brothers to take on the role of the good First Sergeant and keep our Brothers in the ranks of the SUVCW.
2. I congratulate Brother Dean Speaks who serves as our Member-at-Large (MAL) Coordinator for executing the transfer of National MAL members who are eligible for Camp membership to their Departments of residence. This reassignment is required by our Constitution and Regulation. Each Department which has received a transfer list must find a camp for these Brothers. If the newly transferred Brothers cannot be placed in a Camp near their residence, please assign them to your Department Camp-at-Large. Any large transfer of members carries the risk of Brothers dropping through holes in the net. I recommend that Department officers personally contact each transferred Brother to be certain that he has been made at home in his new Camp.
3. Two new Camps have been chartered in the Maryland Department. Congratulations to the 7th West Virginia Volunteers Camp No. 7 near Franklin, WV and the Overland Camp No. 98 at Charlottesville, VA. The Pennsylvania Department has added the Jerome Gennari Camp No. 90. I send the thanks of the Order to the Organizing Officers of these camps, respectively, Robert E Williams, John F Kirk, Jr and Bud Atkinson. Our Order grows best and most rapidly by the formation of new camps.
4. The Council of Administration has approved expenses for an attorney to handle our the case of Gettysburg Camp No. 112 versus Historic Gettysburg Adams County in the matter of the GAR hall deed dispute. I have hired an attorney to represent the Order as voted by the Harrisburg Encampment. Since this matter may go to court, I ask all Brothers to maintain an attitude of quiet watchfulness until the matter is settled.
5. The case concerning a contemplated sale of a cannon from a GAR monument in Griswold, IA is in court. All Brothers should feel free to contact the Iowa Department Commander with offers of assistance. While the threat is real and seemingly widespread, most communities and cemeteries by nature do the right thing. Most would not consider dismantling a Civil War monument in which they take community pride. I have instituted a program to award a Certificate of Merit to communities, posts, cemeteries, and persons who do the right thing in protecting and, where necessary, renovating monuments. The first of these certificates goes to PC-IN-C David R. Medert for his leadership in the restoration of the Chillicothe Veterans Monument in that city. I urge all Brothers to advise me of others who have “done the right thing” sending me a brief description of the qualifying action, the complete name of the person or organization and the US Mail address to which it is to be sent. This is our way of saying thanks to good people who show pride in their heritage.
6. I have, at the request of the Rhode Island Department Commander, sent a letter of support to the Rhode Island Historical Society supporting the Department’s rightful ownership of GAR and SUV items taken from the Benefit Street Armory. The Rhode Island Department is working diligently to protect the heritage of the SUVCW and deserves the support of the Order.
7. The sale of GAR grave markers has been a long standing matter of concern. I have appointed Brother George Powell as our agent to watch over electronic auctions and to advise persons offering veterans grave markers for sale that in many states they are dealing in stolen materials. Each department and camp should use the media contact information provided earlier by Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief Wheeler to publicize our opposition to the resale of GAR grave markers. Brothers aware of proposed sale of grave markers should immediately contact George Powell.
8. The Council of Administration will meet on March 13, 1999 beginning at 9:00 AM at Harrisburg, PA. All Ddepartment Commanders and all Past Commanders-in-Chief are encouraged to attend. Contact the National Secretary for the address of the facility.
By Order of
Andrew M. Johnson