Commander-in-Chief (2019 – 2020)
At the 138th National Encampment in Independence, Ohio, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War elected Edward J. (Ed) Norris of Lancaster, Mass. as the 132nd Brother to hold the office of Commander-in-Chief. He is the 3rd Commander-in-Chief from the Willie Grout Camp 25, and 16th from the Department of Massachusetts.
Brother Norris joined the Order on October 14, 2004. At his first meeting he was nominated as Junior Vice Commander. Being smart enough to decline he did accept being appointed as Patriotic Instructor. Two years later he was elected as Department Treasurer and held that position for five years; he later served another two years. He has served as Camp Commander for three non-contiguous years and as Department Commander for two years. Twice he was awarded the Roger L. Olsen Award as Outstanding Brother of the Year for the Department of Massachusetts.
His introduction to National was when Leo F. Kennedy, PCinC, appointed him as National Guide and that same year he was the Installation Officer at the Department of New Hampshire Encampment; probably because everyone else was at a Council of Administration meeting. Later, Brother Norris served four years on the Council of Administration, then as Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief, Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief and also served as Chief-of-Staff for Perley E. Mellor, PCinC and Donald L. Martin, PCinC before his election as Commander-in-Chief. He vows to never be a Chief-of-Staff again.
Brother Norris served in the Sons of Veterans Reserve for a number of years before becoming Commander (Major) of the 1st Military District. Upon becoming Commander-in-Chief he transferred to the Inactive Reserves.
He became very interested in the Civil War after his then eleven-year-old son wanted to join the 9th Mass. Battery as a reenactor. Brother Norris started researching the Battery and discovered the Graves Registration Database. He contacted the local Graves Registration Officer who led him to the Order.
Brother Norris joined as an Associate and 18 months later discover four second great grand uncles who served with honor. He had left his Smith family ancestors for last to research, otherwise that process would have been quicker.
He joined the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War under James M. Smith of the Company C, 18th Regiment Maine Volunteer Infantry and Company C, 1st Maine Heavy Artillery where he served as a color sergeant and was wounded at Petersburg, Virginia. The other three brothers were: Eben E. Smith who enlisted in Company C, 26th Regiment Maine Volunteer Infantry and Company A, 11th Regiment Maine Volunteer Infantry and was wounded at Deep Bottom Run, Virginia; Josiah H. Smith of Company M, 1st Maine Volunteer Cavalry; and Seth T. Smith of Company A, 27th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry.
Brother Norris has documented numerous cousins who also volunteered and were comrades in the Grand Army of the Republic. His cousins served in regiments for the states of Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
He is married to his best friend and love of his life and has three amazing children. He currently has one granddaughter.
Throughout his years with the Order, he realized our Brothers and Sisters offer an incredible support structure. Whenever something tough came up he found a Brother or Sister willing to assist. Brother Norris sincerely thanks them all.