Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sons of Confederate Veterans 118th National Reunion in Vicksburg MS - Part 2

The first Business Session of the 118th SCV National Convention was brought to order by Commander-in-Chief Michael Givens.  He lived in Pascagoula MS for six years.  He started with the roll call of the GEC including the Army Commanders and Past Commander-in-Chief McMichael and Sweeney. Givens then brought everyone's attention to the special rules for the convention and the motion was made to adopt, seconded and approved. He then introduced Frank Powell as Parliamentarian and the Recording Secretaries.  The Proposed Constitutional Amendments were highlighted in the 2013 Annual Book of Reports provided to each conference attendee.  CiC Givens lamented we are now reduced to just seven Real Sons and none were in attendance; approximately eight Real Grandsons were at the convention and they were also recognized.  Nelson Winbush made a motion to recognize those who are descendants of veterans of the Vicksburg battles and siege and a number of men rose to applause.

CiC Michael Givens, Parliamentarian Frank Powell and Adjutant Steve Ritchie
The Sons of Confederate Veterans General Executive Committee

Executive Director Ben Sewell provided the first report for the Budget and Finances for Elm Springs, the SCV National Headquarters. Monies were recently spent on minor repairs on columns and brick sealing.  The SCV had 29018 members as of the date of his report including approximately 3400 life members.  One of the largest budgeted item was for the continuing restoration of the Forrest boyhood home, over budget  with another similar sum projected to finish the work on this wonderful historic site.  Additional funds are allocated for travel expenses in the upcoming budget for the Lt.Commander and the Army Commanders. Scholarship funds and endowments include the Brookes Fund which has over $3MM in assets awaiting the funding of medical research by SCV members.  Heritage Defense has a war chest for new operational initiatives.  The Bicentennial Fund already has funds accruing and the new SCV Museum over $400k.  Ben recognized the members of the investment committee and said the 2012 audit was completed without issue.  A motion was made to approve the proposed budget, seconded and passed. 

Adjutant-in-Chief Steve Ritchie said the SCV Reunion is the one reunion he enjoys attending and that serving as Adjutant for the SCV is one of the great honors of his life.  He enumerated the responsibilities of the GEC Adjutant to record minutes of GEC meetings and handle GEC correspondence.  Steve has worked with Lt. Commander Barrow on Leadership Training conferences including Colorado and Foley AL. He highlighted the Leadership Institute on-line which is available at now.  Steve has stressed communications between the Adjutants and officers throughout the organization. His goal for the coming year is to complete edits of the Camp Procedure Manual which is also available online.  He presented the Minutes from the 2012 convention for which a motion was made, seconded and approved.

The Judge Advocate General Burl McCoy next addressed the convention and said no recent suits are active and it is his goal to avoid litigation. But, the situation on Memphis over the city council renaming Confederate memorial parks is being investigated as is licence plate battles in Texas and Florida. Chief of Staff Chuck Rand said he too has connections to Vicksburg.  He indicated late registrants for this year's convention resulted in a shortage in commemorative medals and Book of Reports which are important to make available so everyone knows what is going on across the SCV.  The Book of Reports will be posted on line.  He announced new donation initiatives for the SCV Confederate Museum including a Stonewall Jackson founders level to which he announced he was contributing which elicited a congratulatory handshake from Ben Sewell.

Chaplain-in-Chief Mark Evans sees God's providence in everything and recognizes his serving as chaplain as blessing upon blessing.  No other organization in the country has the spiritual strength of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  Our ancestors had a glorious revival which resulted in tens of thousands being saved and the Bible Belt was born of this spiritual revival. Truth is what is.  A lie is what is not.  We are standing for the truth.  You cannot destroy the truth.  Mark informed everyone that the Chaplains Chronicles are available by email - sermons and communications from chaplains across the SCV which include announcements and prayer requests, concluding with the reminder that God answers prayers. 

Chaplain Mark Evans Addresses the Reunion

Army of Northern Virginia Army Commander Frank Earnest introduced Ian Pierce from the Channel Islands which were former British colonies located just off the coast of France. Ian was inspirational in his fiery testimonial of his Confederate roots and spirit saying he knows what the damned Yankees did was wrong as much as what the Nazis did to the Jews during WWII.  The Nazis occupied these islands during WWII but even they did not commit the atrocities that the invading Yankees committed including rape and pillaging.  The 9th of May is celebrated in his homeland as Liberation Day - we need that in America to send the damned Yankees back from whence they came.  Ian flies the Battle Flag at his home except those days when each Confederate state seceded when he flies the state flags.  He once corrected someone who reminded him that the South lost the Battle of Bull Run saying, we didn't and it is called Manassas.  But he does have Dixie playing on his doorbell on his home and also got a telephone with a Dixie ringtone.  He has even argued with church ministers about the War for Southern Independence including after a sermon when he reprimanded a preacher over the accuracy of his depiction of Abraham Lincoln.  Ian swore he would never sing the Battle Hymn of the republic calling it a song of hate.  He placed Battle Flag stickers all over his Red Cross van and explained that his son wears Battle Flag apparel to school.  His ancestors fought in the 22nd Alabama infantry.  There were no rebels, just hard working honest men who fought for the Constitution of 1787.  He hopes 2011-2015 is the SCV's finest hour but we need more members.  The Yankee propaganda is creeping in like a cancer - we accept one thing and then another til one day our grandchildren will ask, "What is the War for Southern Independence?"  Ian painted all his garden gnomes gray and negotiated with his wife to paint their home gray (with white trim as a compromise). 

JM talked about retention.  J said one of the largest monuments to Southern ingenuity was the Confederate patent office in Vicksburg.  He believes the primary reason members don't renew is that they do not recognize the value of membership because they were not involved.  50% of new members do not renew after the first year.  Greet all attendees of your camp meetings, assign someone as greeter who knows all the members names.  Provide a recent copy of the excellent Confederate Veteran magazine to prospective members.  Importantly, provide interesting programs which are historically accurate and not necessarily PC (politically corrupt). 

Lt. Commander Kelly Barrow stressed Leadership Training in his speech to the conference, saying we can never get enough education.  Over 400 people have attended the Leadership Workshops which are an integral part of the Vision 2016 initiative.  We need to build the SCV on better leadership to make better officers and better members.  The SCV Leadership Institute is available for camp Commanders and Adjutants at  New Member training will be added to this curriculum and training will include videos from the workshops.  Upcoming workshops will be conducted in san Antonio TX and Lake City FL.  Kelly conveyed that he is willing to travel anywhere for the membership.

The final report of this first Business Session was from the Convention Planning Committee which met at Beauvoir in March with presentations from two groups wishing to host the 2016 SCV Reunion.  The Committee recommended that the 2016 Reunion be hosted in July in Richardson TX. There was a unanimous vote to accept the recommendation of the Committee.  The Thursday Business Session closed for special lunches and dinners and afternoon tours and would reconvene Friday morning.

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