I was elected Commander of the Department of Missouri, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, for the 2016-2017 administrative year and re-elected for the 2017-2018 administrative year. As part of my responsibilities, I wrote a letter to the Department every quarter which was published in the Department’s newsletter, The Missouri Unionist. Below is the second such letter.
23 Sep 2016
Brothers of the Department of Missouri,
It has been a busy quarter since the last issue of the Missouri Unionist. Summer has transitioned to autumn, and throughout this issue I am sure you will find evidence of the latest activities among the various camps in our department. The Department of Missouri had an impressive delegation of sixteen brothers at the National Encampment in Springfield, Illinois, in August. We said goodbye to another Real Son, Brother Garland Pool, again offering us the sober reminder that an era is ending in our organization, and soon we will no longer have living Real Sons to honor. Also in August, Westport Camp #64 led a centennial celebration of the 50th National Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic, held in Kansas City, Missouri, from 28 August – 2 September 1916. I am also happy to note that all camps in the Department are currently in good standing as we approach the season for camp elections and per capita collections.
Looking forward, I want to bring to your attention the approach of Veterans’ Day on Friday, November 11, 2016. Originally called Armistice Day to commemorate the veterans of World War I, Veterans’ Day is now an annual opportunity to honor and celebrate the service of all veterans, especially those who still walk among us. Looking to General Order #7, Series 2011-2012, by our own Past Commander-in-Chief Donald Palmer, you can read about the federal holiday’s originations, its eventual triumph over the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1978, and see the directive as additional evidence of the importance of recognizing the service and sacrifices of those who answered their country’s call after the boys in blue. How many veterans do you have in your camp? Who are they, and where did they serve? Know your brothers who are themselves veterans, and thank them for putting it all on the line both for the freedom and ideals we hold dear and for their fellow brothers in arms.
As the 150th anniversary year of the formation of the Grand Army of the Republic draws to a close, we stand reminded that service and sacrifice did not end with the conflict some referred to as “The Late Unpleasantness.” New awareness and research has taught us that few if any survive war unscathed. A New York Times article by Sarah Handley-Cousins entitled “PTSD and the Civil War” describes the ordeals of a couple of the many Civil War veterans who suffered long after their part in the fighting had ended. We hear about and see today young veterans coming home from current conflicts not only with unimaginable physical injuries, but with untold mental and psychological damage which often leaves them broken for life. Similar brave, wounded heroes have been coming home generation after generation, often to face what can only be described as neglect from the country they risked all to protect. Article II of this Order’s Constitution implores us “to cooperate in doing honor to all who have patriotically served our country in any war.” Let us renew our resolve to fulfill this mandate in the months and years ahead.
God bless this Union and those who have fought and continue to fight to keep it.
In F, C, &L,
Randal A. Burd, Jr., PCC
Commander, Department of Missouri
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War