Bill Nash Speech at 2011 SUVCW, Department of Michigan, Camp 2 Installation
Remarks by Bill Nash
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
January 27, 2011
|Camp 2 Commander ~ Department of Michigan|
If you all will permit me, I’ve prepared a few remarks that I would like to share at this moment. First, I want to say “thank you” to our guests this evening, including my wife Donna who is celebrating her birthday today. She is and will always be a hearty 29 years old! Then I want to thank you my brothers for being here as always. Without your faithful attendance at our Camp meetings and dedicated service there would be no camp. Finally, I want to especially thank those brothers who have held positions in Camp 2, both elected and appointed. Your leadership gentlemen have been essential. To me you are all unsung heroes as you all quietly fulfill the duties- and then some-that you so willingly take on year after year. Commander Grout, I want to make a special mention of gratitude to you. I think I speak for all of us to say that you led the Camp in an outstanding way. Your grace and strength is a model for us all. You may think that you have merely stepped down as Camp Commander, which is true, but I personally think that you’ve moved up as Chaplain. As most of you know, I did not in the past want to leave the position as Chaplain. But as the saying goes: “man proposes, but God disposes.”
I got the “go-ahead” from the good Lord, and my boss at home, and the vote and confidence from you my brothers to do so. Gary, you will make an outstanding Chaplain-the “Big Man” assured me of that too. I also want to thank the other elected and appointed brothers who will serve in this New Year. Some of you have held various positions in the Camp previously. Your willingness to continue service among us is vital. I want to encourage those brothers who have not held an office or position to consider doing so in the future. “New blood” is always appreciated!
Brothers, our Camp is now in its 9th year. Our Camp Charter notes August 16, 2002 as the date of our official beginning. There were 8 charter members then. Charter members John Ellis, Kevin Lindsey, Bruce Miller, and myself-William Nash are still listed on Camp 2’s roll.
Among the other four original members, Brother Ray Shedd left our Camp for the big encampment in heaven. We were honored to give him an official SUV send-off. Natural attrition accounts for the wherever the other charter members are. We wish them well whatever their situation.
We began in the Troy library as our meeting place. We used a small room there. I still remember my first meeting. I didn’t know anyone, but I felt an instant bond because this group of men was gathered together for one purpose: to honor our ancestors who served in the War of 1861-65. And in doing so, to help perpetuate the principles for which they served. Eventually, the Camp began meeting here at this facility and we have been here ever since. And we have grown! Our current Camp roll stands at 25 with one junior member in that count.
As I look back at our 9 years as an active Camp, I’m reminded that we’ve done some noteworthy things. We’ve participated in too many things to name one by one but here are a few that stand out for me: every Memorial Day ceremony-both at General Richardson’s grave and at the Birmingham observance, the dedication of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Detroit, the headstone dedications of Byron Hicks and John Beutel, the movie presentation of ‘Gods and Generals’ in Birmingham with us as host, the annual death day observation of President Abraham Lincoln at his tomb in Springfield, our presence at Wolcott Mill during their annual Civil War weekend, the ROTC awards ceremonies, and most recently, our contribution to the Veteran’s Day parade in Detroit. I know there were, as I said, many other activities that our Camp and its members took part in. To all of you I give a hearty salute and say “job well done.”
We are living, my brothers, in “interesting times.” Our nation is at war. Yet, among some it is no longer “fashionable” to pay homage to one’s soldiers. In fact, we now often have protesters at the funeral services of our fallen heroes. It’s not uncommon to witness sports celebrities, who earn millions of dollars because of the opportunities this free country affords them, to refuse a salute to the flag or to the nation’s National Anthem. Our own elected leaders have, at times, uttered anti-American things while in foreign countries.
Major motion pictures are released that portray our fighting personnel as “evil” and our country as “imperialistic.” We are part of a culture that values entertainers above our soldiers. Some institutions of higher learning won’t allow recruiters for the military on school grounds. Yet those schools would not have existed without the military having won the freedom for them to teach.
In the Bible, the story is told of the giant Goliath in 1 Samuel chapter 17. He and his Philistine army had faced off with the nation of Israel. The Israelites trembled with fear as the giant warrior taunted and challenged them to come out and stand “toe to toe.” This continued for 40 long days. Finally, a little guy named David, who had heard Goliath dishonoring the God of Israel, got angry and offered to slay the man. As he made his case for action, he asked a question that we, as Sons of Union Veterans, need to ask ourselves continually: “Is there not a cause?”
Is there not a cause?
David thought there was. As we all know, he killed that giant. Many Bible scholars put him at about 10 feet tall.
Is there not a cause?
We as Sons of Union Veterans have a cause…
We still believe in our country, its flag, and its principles. Like our Union ancestors, we are not ashamed to be Americans but proud to be so. We still honor our country’s past leaders like Washington and Lincoln-warts and all. We feel proud of our men and women in military service. They are the real heroes today. We don’t take for granted the privileges we have as citizens. We vote and take part in our democracy.
And yes, we still get teary-eyed at a parade or when we hear a patriotic speech. We think that the United States is the greatest country this world has ever seen despite its shortcomings. And we agree with Lincoln that this nation is “the last best hope of earth.”
Is there not a cause?
Yes, there is. As we face the Goliaths of our culture and way of life-those who would like nothing more than to see the United States end as we have known it and as our founders intended it to be-we do have a cause.
You ask: “what can we do?’
Here is the answer: We keep doing what we as Sons of Union Veterans have pledged to do. We pray for our country that it remain free. Remember our motto is “Preserved by the grace of God.” Our Ritual Book says that, in part, we have pledged to support and defend the Government of the United States of America, to be faithful in all duties of citizenship, to be obedient to the law of the land, to obey the Constitution and Regulations of the Order, and to promote its objects and interests always and everywhere.
When each and every one of us, as Sons of Union Veterans, actively live and practice this commitment in our daily lives, we are answering the call to the cause. No, we can’t do everything but each of us can do something. In our jobs, at home, and in our communities, we are living and breathing examples of faithful and loyal Americans.
So as your new Camp Commander for the year 2011, I encourage you all to take these words to heart and continue the great work you having doing now for so long. In doing so, we honor our forefathers who took on the uniform of blue for a cause. Essentially, we have the same cause today. May God bless us in our ongoing efforts in the next year and as long as there is a United States of America.