Commander-in-Chief’s Message to the Membership #5/2017-2018

Commander-in-Chief Day made a commitment to have his agenda and communications to the membership transparent and open for all.  In accordance with that commitment, we’re posting his final message to the membership at this time.  More information about these items will be posted in the Proceedings of the National Encampment when available, and the minutes of the meetings of the Council of Administration.

Brothers,
As, I come to the end of my term as Commander-in-Chief, I first want to tell you that our Great Order is strong in terms of its finances, has taken the required steps to implement a strategic plan for taking advantage of our 501c3 tax status, and is making progress on becoming more efficient at its National Headquarter by updating our technical infrastructure.
However, I would be remiss to not also state that our efforts at membership growth have proven to only maintain a status quo regarding our total membership numbers; even though we have gained seven (7) new camps and are on the verge of establishing several more. We are simply treading water and the Order must find a way to bring in new members both hereditary and associate. Membership must continue to be a major focus of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War in the next year and those following it. In my talks with many of the Department Encampments and in several addresses to other bodies, I have related a story about a woman in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania who called me and asked if there was a heritage group that honors the Union Soldiers. Those that have heard me tell this story know that this lady lived on Middle Street a few houses from the G.A.R Hall, had witnessed many Remembrance Day Parades but still did not know we exist. For me this is a symptom of our greater identify and membership problems. If a woman from Gettysburg doesn’t know we exist, then we have real identity issues, which must be immediately addressed.

I also regret to say that our relationship with some of the other Allied Orders is not as strong as I would wish it to be. In April we learned that the L.G.A.R would not be joining us this year, and this deeply saddened me, but on a positive note the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War 1861 – 1865 almost simultaneously approached our Son’s Fraternal Relations Committee with a query about a co-located National Encampment and Convention sometime in the next five years. Brothers we are stronger as a unified voice seeking to fulfill the goals we aspire to for keeping the memory of the men who sacrificed so much to preserve the Union and free a people in bondage. We must find ways to preserve and strengthen our fraternal ties with the L.G.A.R., the DUVCW, the WRC, and the Auxiliary to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. We must solve the issues that have arisen and not allow our organizations to be drawn into differences that arise from instances of individual interpersonal interactions or relationships, or they shall become a plague which threatens to cripple all the Allied Orders and effectively end our ability to work cooperatively in accomplishing the mission we all share and hold dear. Last August, the CofA tasked me to form a committee to work with those Allied Orders, who traditionally hold their national meeting with the Sons, and to establish formal agreements with them. Such an agreement has been made with the Auxiliary to the Sons of Union Veterans for the 2020 Encampment and it is hoped that other agreements can be made with the L.G.A.R or WRC in the future.

As you are probably aware, I became Commander-in-Chief on August 12th last year and that on very day a situation in Charlottesville, VA brought the issue of Monuments to the forefront. In the first several months of my term, I spent a great deal of time on the issue of monuments. I first issued GO #2 to clarify who the official spokesperson of the Sons of Union Veterans to ensure we did not have a mixed set of messages being put forward. I was interviewed on talk radio in Detroit, Michigan and I was interviewed by the Associated Press. As the year proceeded the monuments issue became less and less of a news item and has generally remained so to this time. However, it is too soon to believe this issue will not return to the forefront as the anniversary of the events in Charlottesville occurs in the coming weeks.

I have sought to fulfill my promise to communicate with the membership more regularly through a CinC message. I have written four such messages but since the last one in March my schedule has been very demanding, and I have not been able to follow through with additional messages. This message contains much of the text found in my final report to the CofA and National Encampment attendees and is intended to let the Brothers not in attendance at the National Encampment have the benefit of receiving the information contained within it in a timely manner.

This past Spring, I issued General Order #18 at the request of the National Treasurer. I am, pleased that the Departments have acted so quickly to complete the by-law requirements found in General Order 18 and I have complete confidence that all the Camps and Departments will have complied with its provisions by the June 2019 deadline. To date, I have approved and signed the by-laws of more than 10 Departments. It is imperative that the Camps and Departments complete the insertion of the IRS required language by the deadline. The National Treasurer will shortly be sending out a form that each Department Commander will have to sign (for accountability) verifying he has reviewed and approved each of the Camp’s by- laws in his Department, ensuring that the IRS language had been incorporated.

On a more personal note, I thank all those who have contributed to my initiative to complete the memorial plaza for Dr. Stephenson in Illinois. Getting the names of those Camps and Department who have so generously given has proven to be a task. I have given out many streamers, but I know there are many others who gave and have not been awarded the streamer. If there is a Department or Camp that has not been recognized, I would appreciate that they contact me directly and I will ensure that they have their streamer. In April it was my great pleasure to attend the annual ceremonies at the Stephenson Plaza and see the raising of two beautiful Bronze lighted flag poles, which have greatly increased the beauty of the site, and I encourage all the Brothers of the SUVCW to stop by and see the gorgeous Marble Benches, provided by each of the Allied Orders and the individual pavers that have been installed. I think you will be proud of the work that has been done.

Before going on to my recommendations and other administrative matters, I wish to commend those who were involved in accomplishing some of the very significant actions, I have previously mentioned. First, I would ask that Brother David McReynolds, our National Treasurer and his Strategic Development Committee be commended for the work they have done
to move the Sons of Union Veterans forward along the path to attaining and utilizing the 501c3 tax status, which we were granted in February 2017. I would also wish to thank Brother Michael Paquette for his efforts to survey and recommend technological updates at the National Headquarters, which were sorely needed. I would further like to take a moment to recognize PCinC Mortorff for his selfless dedication to manning the National Headquarters and maintaining it during the illness of Executive Director Demmy. We owe Brother Gene a lot for stepping up and keeping the order running as normal through some of its busiest months.

Brothers we are in the end, as an organization, the sum of our parts. These Brothers are just the tip of the amazing body of men who are striving to make the SUVCW viable. God Bless all of them; for without them, I know not what we would be or do. I will never forget the great honor and privilege that you have afforded me as your Commander-in-Chief over the last year. This will undoubtably be the highlight of my life and I am forever in your debt.

May a gracious providence grant grace and peace to this order and may it ever be loyal to its credo of Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty.

I have the following recommendations:

1. That the CinC Appointed Strategic Development Committee be continued and made a standing committee by this encampment. This is the committee which is overseeing our Fund-raising efforts as a 501c3 and they are critical to our continued progress and success.
2. That the Fraternal Relations Committee be allocated a small budget ($500) that can be used to support its efforts and that the Fraternal Relations Committee job description be modified to show a tasking to correspond and interact with all the allied Orders in the furtherance of our joint goal of practicing Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty.
3. That an appointed position called Public Affairs Officer be created and that a job description be written that includes the duty of:
a. Issuing Press Releases for all National Activities and Events.
b. Working with the Signals Officer to produce 15, 30, and 60 second video ads, which can be distributed as PSA’s.
4. That a Committee be established tasked with identifying all the financial aspects requirements, facilities requirements and staffing requirements that are necessary to Establish a standalone Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War National headquarters by the year 2022, and which would bring both our administrative and quartermaster functions under one roof. This committee should be tasked with providing a plan to accomplish the establishment of a permanent National Headquarters by the National in 2020. I believe this is a necessary step if we are to grow and prosper and be recognized as a legitimate and professional heritage organization in the 21st Century.
5. That the CinC Appointed Communications and Technology Sub- Committee on technology needs at the National HQ be continued by my successor to complete the work which was begun on updating and enhancing our effectiveness.
6. That the National Special Committee on Website redesign be continued through the year 2021.
7. That the CinC Appointed Committee on the Allied Orders and National Encampments be continued so that it can continue to work with the Allied Orders on Joint Encampment Agreements.

Significant Administrative Actions taken over the year:

1. New Camps Chartered in the Departments of New York (1), Tennessee (1), North Carolina (1), Missouri (1), Kentucky (1), Indiana (1), and Texas (1)
2. Disbandment of Camps in the Department of New York (2), Georgia and South Carolina (1), Missouri (1), Chesapeake (2)
3. General Order (#2) clarifying who is the official Spokesman of the SUVCW on Monument Matters.
4. General Order (#18) IRS Language to be added to Department and Camp By-laws.
5. General Order (#3) Ruling on appropriate Camp names when applying for a new Camp.
6. General Order (#6) Ruling on status of life members paying department Per capita.
7. General Order (#24) Ruling affirming the power of a Department Encampment to direct a Department Commander to appoint committees and to delineate the membership of committees as the Department Encampment sees necessary.
8. General Order (#32) Suspension of Department of Columbia and Department of Connecticut.
9. General Order (#33) Proposed Amendment to the Constitution and Regulations.
10. Negotiation and Approval by the Council of Administration of a 2020 Joint Encampment Agreement with the Auxiliary to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.
11. The presentation of appropriate Awards and Honors to Brothers of the Order, our Departments, and Camps. Please see my final General Order for a listing of all the Awards presented at the National Encampment.

Travel and Activities of the CinC

In 2017
September 23rd attended the Sons of Spanish American War Annual Congress
September 30th Speaker for Medal of Honor Ceremony Lexington Park, MD
October 6th Attended and brought fraternal greetings to the Central Region G.A.R. Allied Orders in Cleveland, OH
October 28th Attended and brought greetings to the MOLLUS and DOLLUS Annual Congress in Gettysburg, PA
November 4th Attended and brought greetings during the Testimonial for the President ASUVCW in Alliance, OH
November 11th Attended, brought greetings, and placed a wreath during the Veterans Day Ceremonies in Charlottesville, VA
November 11th Attended Antietam Camp Veterans Day Dinner in Frederick, MD
November 18th Attended and spoke during Remembrance Day programs in Gettysburg, PA
December 10th Attended the annual ceremony for the Irish Brigade at the Battle of Fredericksburg and placed a wreath
December 21st Attended the funeral for Brother David Demmy’s wife Marilyn in Harrisburg, PA
In 2018
January 27th Attended the Mid-year meeting of the Department of Indiana in Greenfield, IN
February 3rd Attended the Mid-year meeting of the Department of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee, WI
February 12th placed a wreath for the annual Lincoln Birthday program at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC
March 16-17 Attended the Department of California Annual Encampment in Bakersfield, CA
March 24-25 Attended Spring CofA Meeting in Franklin, TN
April 6-8 Attended Department of Rhode Island Annual Encampment in Providence, RI
April 13-15 Lincoln Death Day Ceremonies in Springfield, Ill, spoke and placed wreath (also attended Stephenson ceremony)
April 20-21 Attended Georgia / South Carolina Department Annual Encampment in Lexington, SCApril 27-29 Attended Department of the Chesapeake Annual Encampment, in Ellicott City, MD
May 4-6 Attended the Department of Michigan Annual Encampment in Lansing, MI
May 28th Attended National Observed Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery and placed wreath
May 30th Attended Traditional Memorial Day observances in Arlington National Cemetery and placed wreath
June 1- 3 Attended Department of Missouri Annual Encampment in Bennett Springs, MO
June 8-10 Attended Department of Ohio Annual Encampment in Columbus, OH
June 28-30 Attended Pennsylvania Department Annual Encampment in Williamsport, PA
July 17-18 Attended and brought greetings at the opening ceremonies of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Cool Springs, TN
July 25th Attended and brought greetings at the Daughters Union Veterans of the Civil War Convention in Bloomington, MN

May God Bless each of you, our organization, and our nation.

In Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty
Your Brother and servant
Mark R. Day
Commander-in-Chief Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War