Commander-in-Chief (1991 – 1992)
Lowell Varner Hammer was elected Commander-in-Chief at the 110th National Encampment of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War held in Indianapolis, Indiana on August 11-14, 1991.
Commander-in-Chief Hammer was born in Ligonier, Pennsylvania on February 20, 1928. He was educated in the public schools of Ligonier, Greensburg, and Johnstown, Pennsylvania and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Foreign Service from the Pennsylvania State University in 1950. In September of 1950 during the Korean War, he was inducted into the U.S. Army and after basic training, leadership school, and Artillery Officer Candidate School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, he received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. After a few months service in the U.S. , he was transferred to the Far East Command based in Japan where he served until his release from active duty in 1953.
Upon his return to the U.S., Brother Hammer attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Medford, Massachusetts where he earned his Master of Arts degree in 1954. Immediately thereafter, he went to Washington, D.C. where he commenced his over thirty year career in foreign affairs with the federal government serving as an officer in executive branch agencies and departments including the U.S. Foreign Service of the Department of State. He also served abroad in Africa and Europe. After retiring in 1985, he was persuaded by former colleagues to return to government service as an independent contractor where he worked for another nine years in intelligence and international security affairs.
Commander-in-Chief Hammer’s grandfather, great uncle, and two great grandfathers served in the Union Army with the Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. His grandfather, John B. Hammer, was a Sergeant with Company D of the 138th Regiment; his great uncle, Hezekiah Hammer, served as Captain of Company K of the 55th Regiment; his great grandfather, Jacob G. Varner, served as a Private in Company A of the 107th Regiment. Another great grandfather, Thomas G. Walker, served as a Private in Company I of the 171st Regiment as well as a Corporal in Company I of the 91st Regiment. Quite a few more distant relatives also served in the Union forces.
Commander-in-Chief Hammer is a Past Department Commander of the Maryland (now Chesapeake) Department and a Past Camp Commander of the Lincoln-Cushing Camp #2. At the National level, he has served as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway Officer, on the National Council of Administration, as Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief and Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief. He is a Colonel in the Sons of Veterans Reserve and served as the Washington, D.C. Liaison Officer. Commander-in-Chief Hammer also served as the Vice Chairman of the Lincoln Birthday National Commemorative Committee, the sponsor of the annual ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial on every February 12th. Additionally, he served on the Advisory Board of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites, as a member of the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania and the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia.
In addition to his service in the Sons of Union Veterans, Brother Hammer served as Commander-in-Chief of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States in 1989-1991. He was also active and served as an officer in many other hereditary societies, military orders, veterans organizations, historical and genealogical societies. In 1999, he published a book of over 700 pages on his Hammer ancestors. Past Commander-in Chief Hammer, his wife, Betsy, and three children lived in the Washington suburb of Potomac, Maryland from 1967 to 1997. Betsy is a Past President of the Lincoln Cushing Camp Auxiliary as well as a Past National President of the Dames of the Loyal Legion of the United States. In 1997, the Hammers moved to Port St. Lucie, Florida where they lived until moving to College Station, TX in 2006.