About the Grand Army Of The Republic
And The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
At the conclusion of the American Civil War almost 1½ million Union servicemen slowly made their way home to resume the lives that they had put on hold to preserve the Union. In the course of the war 2½ million men had worn the blue of the United States Army, Navy, or Marines. Gone was the excitement of battle and the thrill of visiting parts of the country that they may have only dreamed seeing of just months before. In its place was the mundane routine of earning a living, raising a family and resuming their place within the community. It is not surprising that soon these servicemen would crave and seek out the companionship and fraternity of their former "comrades in arms." It was only another veteran that could truly understand and comprehend what they had witnessed and accomplished. A year after the close of the war, in 1866, the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was formed to answer this need.
For the next three quarters of a century the GAR would care for the widow and the orphan of the fallen soldier. It would also care for the disabled veteran and provide political clout to establish veteran's pensions. No less than five US Presidents would owe their elections to the support of the GAR. The GAR would provide camaraderie for the veterans, a focus upon the family, patriotic education for youth, and be a benefactor for various patriotic causes.
From the start, membership in the GAR was limited to those who had served in the US armed forces during the war years of 1861-65. By this definition, the GAR was destined to extinction at some finite time in the future. With this in mind, the GAR sought to provide for the future by choosing a successor for itself. In the end these veterans turned to their own sons to "keep green the memory" of their sacrifice. First organized in 1881, the Sons Of Veterans (later the Sons Of Union Veterans and finally the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War or SUVCW) was Federally chartered by Act of Congress in 1954. With the passing of the last Union veteran and member of the Grand Army in 1956, the SUVCW picked up the reins and began to formally carry on the work of the GAR.
Slightly over a half century later, the SUVCW boasts membership of about 6000 members, nationwide and nearly 600 within the state of Michigan. The SUVCW is engaged in "keeping green the memory" of the GAR through the location and preservation of GAR records, the preservation of GAR and Civil War memorials, and locating and the registering of Civil War gravesites. The SUVCW seeks to educate America's youth as to the rightful place of the Union veteran in history and joins with other veteran's groups in honoring our nation's veterans of all conflicts. Many Camps are also active in serving their communities in areas not connected with history or the Civil War.
The Sons Of Union Veterans Of The Civil War exists to perpetuate the memory of the "Boys In Blue" who left the comfort and safety of hearth and home to defend the Union from 1861-65, and in doing so, preserved the nation and the dignity of mankind. It asks no greater honor than to represent those magnificent warriors who, when the conflict was over, reached out to their fallen foe and, along with him, helped build the greatest and most mighty nation that the world has ever known.