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 third such letter.
30 Dec 2016
Brothers of the Department of Missouri,
I hope this letter finds you safe and warm and having shared a happy holiday season with the ones you love. It is the time of year for officer installations, and I have installed the officers of Fletcher, St. James, and Wilhemi camps and assigned designees to some others as requested. It is my hope we get installations completed in January as required by the C&R. While attending the meetings of other camps, I have been impressed with the dedication to our mission which is evident not only in each and every gathering I have witnessed, but in the accounts of activities individual camps have submitted which are published in the Missouri Unionist.
As I submitted the Department of Missouri’s report to the Commander-in-Chief’s chief of staff for the November 19th Council of Administration meeting in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, I was again reminded of how essential camp quarterly reports and camp Unionist submissions are to ensuring the many camp activities which take place throughout the year are acknowledged on a state and national level. Please make certain that your camp submits a timely quarterly report to the Department, as well as an article on your activities for the quarter to the Unionist by the appropriate deadline. Without these reports and articles, many worthy activities of the dedicated camps of this department do not get the attention they deserve.
It is worth mentioning that a contentious political campaign season is over, and I want to thank the brothers of this department, especially those who have a presence on social media, for adhering to our Order’s values of Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty. While Article IV of the Constitution of the Order prohibits discussion of partisan topics within the Order, it is inevitable (especially this past campaign season) that those who carry their friendships in the Order to their social media pages will encounter the passionate political views of their brothers there. It is my personal observation that those views range across the entire political spectrum. This is why I am all the more pleased to see that conversations have remained respectful, and our bonds of Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty continue to be cherished above our most passionate political leanings.
I have been fortunate to be able to travel this year to some of the sites especially sacred to our Order. This past summer I was able to again visit the tomb of Abraham Lincoln as well as his early homes and his presidential library. Over the holiday break, I was able to visit the battlefields at Corinth, Mississippi, and Shiloh, Tennessee. The exhibits and videos at sites such as these are always educational. From general historical background to how soldiers and civilians worked, ate, and slept, these museums and interpretive centers offer interactive insights into “how it was.” The reenactors among us add to these understandings opportunities to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of battle, bringing us even closer to an understanding of the important events of this time.
There is a third important option for our immersion into the subject of our passionate interests. As Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, we have a personal connection to the American Civil War. We have an opportunity to maybe learn the motivations of OUR soldier ancestors and the price paid by them and their families. While there are ample opportunities to observe first-hand the uniforms soldiers wore, the plates they ate from, the blankets which kept them warm, etc., we have a unique opportunity as descendants to discover a far more personal story and connection. These personal connections really cut through the romantic preconceptions of the period and help us learn lessons of honor, conviction, and sacrifice, which provide new perspective to the other names, places, and events we study with such tenacity.
I continue to be humbled by the opportunity to lead this department, reflective on the mission put before us and appreciative of your support for me and for each other as we preserve the memory of the boys in blue for future generations.
God bless this Union, our ancestors who fought for it, and those who must continue to work together to keep it.
In Fraternity, Charity, & Loyalty,
Randal A. Burd, Jr., DC
Commander, Department of Missouri
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War