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Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

Past National Encampment Report of
Commander-in-Chief Alan R. Loomis

1997 - 116th National Encampment
Utica, New York


National Officers, Delegates and Brothers in attendance at the 116th Annual National Encampment of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War:

I am honored to have served as Commander-in-Chief during the past year and at the same time humbled by the responsibilities of this office as well as the courtesies extended to me by many brothers of the order. I would now like to present my year-end report. I would like to begin by highlighting my travel as Commander in Chief by noting two special occasions. The first was the opportunity to speak in the Capital Building of the United States on Sept. 9, 1996. The occasion was the ceremony commemorating the participation of 178,000 Colored Troops that served the Union cause during the Civil War. It is my observation that there is a large untapped growth potential among the descendants of these Union Soldiers and Sailors that needs to be addressed. The second notable highlight was the opportunity to address the Sons of Confederate Veterans Annual Reunion in Nashville, Tennessee July 31, 1997. This was the third consecutive year that the Commander-in-Chief has attended and addressed the SCV Annual Reunion. The emphasis of my remarks was and I quote. "May we continue to explore all possible means of ensuring that the honor of our ancestors will continue as we work together to insure that grave sites, monuments, and memorials are maintained and the appropriate commemorative ceremonies are continued and engraved in the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans." As one dual member who approached me following my remarks said. "Would your please send me applications since I have several members in my SCV camp that are eligible for SUVCW membership." Our two organizations have reawakened to the fact that they are mutually complimentary through the contacts and activities carried out together, particularly at the camp level. I do not wish to disturb your repose by enumerating my complete list of travels during the year since they have been made a part of this report as Attachment # 1.

I would now like to note two projects which I have been emphasizing during my administration. To preface these projects I would like to quote the opening of Sec. 3 of our Congressional Charter which states: "The purposes of the Corporation shall be: To perpetuate the memory of the Grand Army of the Republic and of the men who saved the Union in 1861 to 1865; to assist in every practicable way in the preservation and making available for research of documents and records pertaining to the Grand Army of the Republic and its members; . . ." From the time of my election and installation as Commander-in-Chief I have been encouraging members, Camps, and Departments to become involved in graves registration of Civil War Veterans and the classifying, cataloging, preservation, and maintaining of GAR and Civil War Monuments and Memorials. This is an enormous undertaking that will require years and possibly decades to complete. However, as the old saw states, "Any journey begins with the first step." During the past year the fruits of our labor have begun with an increased activity at all levels in grave registration and monument cataloging, preservation, and maintenance.

I would now like to address an issue which consumed an inordinate amount of time and effort during the past year. The National Military Affairs Committee, with my concurrence, effected a change in command of the Sons of Veterans Reserve which occurred at the end of the Remembrance Day weekend last November. The final chapter of this most unfortunate situation will hopefully be decided at this encampment. It is my humble opinion that the dismissal and unfortunate aftermath could have been avoided had the obligation each one of us agreed to during our initiation had been adhered to and the Constitution and Regulations of our Order had been scrupulously followed.

I would like to relate that I have received numerous reports from Camps and Departments about Civil War related activities and other activities, while not Civil War related, provide positive public relations for the SUVCW. In addition I have received numerous inquiries about initiating cooperative projects in conjunction with the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other patriotic and hereditary organizations. I have consistently responded that it is in the best interest of the order, at all levels, to develop positive community, state, and regional identification through participation in these activities. As our membership grows, Camps and Departments are chartered, and members continue to become involved in various activities, the visibility of the Order will have an increasing impact on the American public. I have been informed that CNN coverage of the Afro American Civil War monument program in Washington, D. C. last September and the Grant Tomb Centennial in April included segments involving the SUVCW. Additionally, the Civil War Widows meeting that took place in Gettysburg on July 1 of this year received a wide range of media attention that a large segment of the American public was exposed to.

I would like to point out that important changes took place in relation to the Banner without major disruptions. These changes include a change of Banner Editor with a new format for our National Publication and although there has been mixed reviews of the new format, the Banner has been printed and delivered to the U. S. Postal Service in a timely manner. Unfortunately, the third class mailing status has in some instances caused delays in delivery which is not to be misconstrued as resulting from a delay in publishing. I would also encourage all members to submit timely address and zip code changes to Camp Secretaries who should in turn pass them along the chain of command so that the National Secretary and Membership List Coordinator are informed. This is most important so that members receive a Banner each quarter as well as reducing the costs associated with Banners returned by the Post Office.

I would like to point out that the goal of providing consistent advice on the operations of the Order and in particular the application of the Constitution and Regulations has been enhanced by the growth of a National Legal Staff. This committee has grown to fifteen members located in nine separate Departments. This grew out of a suggestion by the National Counselor to form a committee of member/attorneys that would aid Department and Camp officers in interpreting the C R as well as advising them concerning state and local laws when needed. This latter advise becomes critical in situations where advice is needed and the National Counselor would not be familiar with the statutes of a particular state. I would encourage each Department Commander to enlist a member/attorney to fill the position of Department Counselor as well as serving on the National Legal Staff. Additional members/attorneys, if possible, would also allow a Department to form its own legal staff if the Department so desires. In addition, it becomes incumbent upon the Department and Camp Officers to use the most recent edition of the C R along with the Department Counselor to insure that the work of the order is in compliance with the intent of the order.

I would like to briefly address the growth of our order and its association with the growth of electronic communication. Within the last seven years we have accepted the premise that to increase our membership we needed to make the American public aware of our organization. Our early efforts in this endeavor was to advertise in Civil War related magazines which served as a springboard to turn our declining membership into a positive increase in membership each year. With the advent of electronic communications, i. e. computers, e mail, the internet and the SUVCW web page, our membership has increased dramatically due to this media. I am sure the Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief will inform you in his report of the dramatic effect this form of communication has had on the recruitment of new members. We now stand at five thousand plus members, double the membership we mustered just a few short years ago.

I would like to state that in spite of the problems that were dealt with this year and in spite of the fact that I did not deal with and accomplish as much as I had hoped to, the progress of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War continues. We were able to address major concerns and the outlook of the Order is positive and encouraging.

As I end this report and before presenting my recommendations, I would like to quote the concluding segment of the obligation which we all affirmed by our signature on our membership application and swore to uphold when inducted into membership. ". . . ; to be faithful in all the duties of citizenship, to be obedient to the law of the land, to obey the Constitution and Regulations of this Order, and actively to promote its objects and interests always and everywhere, So Help me God." During the course of my administration it became necessary to concur with and carry out administrative decisions that, although divisive, were made with the objects and interests of the Order in mind and based on the C R. I make no apologies for the decisions I made and I will state that my primary objective was the "good of the Order."

Alan R. Loomis
Commander-in-Chief, 1996-1997
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

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