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 fifth such letter.
27 Jun 2017
Brothers of the Department of Missouri,
This is my first letter to you in my second term as your Department Commander. I was not expecting to still be in this position when I last wrote to you in the Unionist as your outgoing Department Commander. But I am happy to serve, and even more grateful for your continued support of me in this role. I was probably in the fourth or fifth grade when one of my teachers noted my obsession with Civil War history and through another former teacher secured for me a venue teaching what I knew about the Civil War to an evening college class meeting in town. I am sure as an 11- or 12- year old my presentation was not objectively impressive, but the experience meant the world to me and gave me self-confidence that helped me continue to enjoy learning and value an education. Many of you work with schools, teaching our youth about and immersing them in Civil War history. I believe your interest in their education could mean more than you know in many cases and will benefit many of them beyond the primary objective of imparting knowledge about this one meaningful period in our nation’s history. Well done.
I have been impressed on many occasions by the work being done by my brothers in this Department. Both old and new members have achieved some notable accomplishments. The Vicksburg Memorial rededication at Vicksburg was memorable. The leadership and teamwork on display for such an event to happen as smoothly as it did should be inspiring to other camps not only in this Department, but throughout our Order. I’ve been told the National Park Service was impressed by the efforts of the aforementioned committee and those brothers who assisted the committee in those preparations. Other efforts in multiple camps continue to further our mission and do honor to our cause as well. And it appears we have a new camp which will join the ranks of the Department of Missouri in this administrative year!
I am excited to see what this new administrative year will bring for our Department. We have the Vicksburg Monument Restoration Committee working on the restoration of the smaller granite unit markers at Vicksburg. Another committee is working to promote the historical education of this country’s youth through a contribution to an American History essay contest; the details and scope of our participation are still being worked out. Brothers familiar with the ins and outs of National Encampments of this Order are looking into securing one for St. Louis in the near future. I have formed a committee to honor and encourage service to living veterans of all wars, a possible focus which has been suggested by other brothers on occasion and to which other lineage organizations already give their attention.
It is good that there are many positive projects in the works, because for better or worse the Civil War is in the public consciousness at the moment more so than usual as discussions regarding monuments depicting its leaders and participants, perceived causes and convictions, are engaging people (sometimes in unfortunate ways) who might normally not take an interest. During this time it is important we show thoughtful restraint in our public words and deeds, that we remember the ancestors our organization seeks to honor, and that we commit ourselves to the Purpose and Objects of our Order and our fraternal watchwords of Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty.
God bless this Union and its enduring legacy of freedom.
In Fraternity, Charity, & Loyalty,
Randal A. Burd, Jr., PDC
Commander, Department of Missouri
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War