On 21 October 1989 at the 104th Annual Congress in Fremont, Ohio, Lowell Varner Hammer was unanimously elected Commander-in-Chief of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. A native Pennsylvanian, Past Commander-in-Chief Hammer was born on 20 February 1928 in Ligonier, Pennsylvania near the site of Fort Ligonier, an important garrison during the French and Indian War. His parents were the Rev. John Domer Hammer and Edythe Lenore (Varner) Hammer. He was educated in the public schools of Ligonier, Greensburg, and Johnstown, Pennsylvania. From 1946 until June 1950 he attended the Pennsylvania State University where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Foreign Service. At Penn State, he was the High Gamma (secretary) of the Lambda Chi Alpha social fraternity; Secretary/Treasurer of Pi Lambda Sigma, the pre-legal honorary; a member of Delta Sigma Pi, the commerce and finance professional fraternity; Vice President and President of the International Relations Club; and a member of the French Club.
With the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 when he received his college diploma, it was not long before Lowell Hammer found himself in the armed forces. He arrived at Fort Dix, New Jersey in October 1950 where he completed basic training and served as a non-commissioned trainer with the 9th Infantry Division before attending Leadership School after which he attended Artillery Officer Candidate School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. After receiving his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in March 1952, he served with the 933rd Field Artillery Battalion of the 31st Infantry Division at Camp Atterbury, Indiana until September 1952 when he received orders transferring him to the Far East Command where he served with the 63rd FABn of the 24th Infantry Division. Upon completion of his tour of duty, he returned to the U.S. where he was released from active duty at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey on 10 Sept. 1953.
Returning to the academic world after his military service, Past Commander-in-Chief Hammer attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy ,which was then administered by Tufts and Harvard Universities, where he received his Master of Arts degree in June 1954. In August of that same year, he moved to Washington, D.C. to begin what was to become a long career in the U.S. Government. During his career of over forty years with the Federal Government, he served as an officer in Executive Branch agencies and departments working primarily in intelligence and international security affairs. In addition to being posted in African and European countries, he traveled extensively in those areas. After retiring in January 1985, he was requested to return to government service where he continued to serve as a consultant for almost another ten years. While working for the government, he lived in Washington, D.C.; Arlington and Alexandria, VA; Potomac, MD: and Williamsburg, VA.
Past Commander-in-Chief Hammer is married to Elizabeth “Betsy” Carter (Bowers) Hammer who is a Past National President of the Dames of the Loyal Legion of the United States of America. Their daughter, Sarah Haberl, and one of three granddaughters are members of the Dames. A son, Carter Hammer, and two grandsons are Companions in the D.C. Commandery. Another son, Christopher Hammer who died of a brain tumor in 2005, was also a Companion in the D.C. Commandery. After giving up his consulting work in Washington, Past Commander-in-Chief Hammer and Betsy moved to Florida in the fall of 1997 where they lived until 2006 when they moved to College Station, Texas to be near their daughter and family. A genealogist by avocation, he published a 706 page Hammer family history/genealogy book in 1999.
Having a grandfather, several grand uncles, two great grandfathers and many cousins several times removed who served in the Union Army during the Civil War, Past Commander-in-Chief Hammer has always had an avid interest in this period of American history. Before completing his term of office as Commander-in-Chief of the Loyal Legion, he was elected Commander-in-Chief of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) in August 1991. Although Gen. U.S. Grant III and Companions Rick Bury and Keith Harrison have served as Commander-in-Chief of both MOLLUS and the SUVCW at different times, Lowell is the only one to serve as Commander-in-Chief of both organizations at the same time, albeit for a relatively brief period. While serving as Commander-in-Chief of MOLLUS and the SUVCW, he was a member of the Advisory Board of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites. He served also as Chairman of the Lincoln Birthday National Commemorative Committee - the group which sponsors the annual ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial every February 12th. Additionally, he served as an Associate Chairman of the Lincoln Commission at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church “the Lincoln Church” which held a special program at the church every February on the weekend closest to Lincoln’s birthday. Other Civil War and Lincoln related activities included membership in the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia and the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania. In the Sons of Veterans Reserve, the uniformed military component of the SUVCW, he rose to the rank of Colonel and served at different times as D.C. Liaison Officer, Public Relations Officer, and Inspector General.
In addition to his participation in the Civil War related societies and organizations, Lowell took an active part in many other hereditary societies, veterans organizations, historical and genealogical societies, chivalric orders, and patriotic societies. He served as President of the District of Columbia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, President of the Sons of the Revolution in D.C., Commander of the D.C. Commandery of the Military Order of the Foreign Wars of the U.S., Governor of the D.C. Branch of the Sons and Daughters of the Pilgrims; Deputy Governor of the Honorable John Randolph Chapter of the Hereditary Order of Loyalists and Patriots; Sr. Vice Commander of the D.C. Chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars; Captain General of the Sons of the American Colonists; Treasurer and Inspector of the St. King Charles the Martyr Priory of the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem. He has held other offices and served on committees in a number of other societies and organizations. Having served as the National head of two recognized hereditary societies, he is a member of the National Gavel Society. Lowell is also a member of the Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired (DACOR), the DACOR Bacon House, and the Army and Navy Club.
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