Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Initiation Ritual


Opening Ceremonies
The hour of opening having arrived and a quorum being present, the Commander will assume his station and give one rap with the gavel *.
COMMANDER: The officers will assume their respective stations.
The Commander will fill such vacancies among the officers as he may desire by appointment pro tem.
COMMANDER: Guide, you will ascertain if the Guards are at their respective posts and in possession of the proper pass-word and countersign. Color Bearer, you will arrange the Altar.
COLOR BEARER: Sir, your orders have been obeyed.
GUIDE: Sir, on due inspection, I find the Guards at their respective posts and in possession of the proper password and countersign.
COMMANDER: Honored Veterans: We welcome your presence here, and by our bonds of loyalty, we ask you never to reveal any of the business or work of the Camp which you may witness. By your act of remaining, we construe it that you accept this obligation.
COMMANDER: Guide, you will make the rounds of the Camp and ascertain if all are entitled to remain. If there is a large attendance the Color Bearer may assist the Guide.
The Guide will communicate the password and countersign to the Commander, and will then proceed from the Commander’s left around the Camp room receiving the password and countersign from each member of the Order. Should there be any Veterans of the War of the Rebellion present, the Guide will pass them way, simply saluting them. In case a Brother is without the password and countersign, the Guide will stop, salute the Commander and say:
GUIDE: Commander, I find Brother … without the password and countersign.
The Commander will summon the Brother to his station, communicate to him the password and countersign. The Guide having made the rounds of the Camp, distributing the Ode Cards at the same time, salutes the Commander from the rear of the Altar and when recognized, says:
GUIDE: Sir, on due inspection I find all are entitled to remain.
COMMANDER: You may assume your place.
COMMANDER: Senior Vice Commander, you will instruct the Guard to secure the door and admit no one into the Camp until it is duly opened, and you are instructed to do so.
SENIOR VICE COMMANDER: Sir, your orders shall be obeyed.
COMMANDER: Brothers, upon what principles is our Order founded and what duties do we inculcate?
CAMP, in unison: Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty.
COMMANDER: Patriotic Instructor, what color does your station represent?
PATRIOTIC INSTRUCTOR: Red, denoting patriotism, strength and courage.
COMMANDER: Senior Vice Commander, what color does your station represent?
SENIOR VICE COMMANDER: White, denoting charity and purity.
COMMANDER: Junior Vice Commander, what color does your station represent?
JUNIOR VICE COMMANDER:Blue, denoting fraternity and faithfulness.
COMMANDER: Guide, what is the color of the Commander's station?
GUIDE: The flag of our country, theUnion of the red, white and blue, for the preservation of which we have all pledged our lives.
COMMANDER, ***: The Chaplain will invoke the Divine blessing.
Opening Prayer
CHAPLAIN: Our Heavenly Father, the High and Mighty Ruler of the Universe, who dost from Thy throne look down upon the government of men, most heartily do we beseech Thee with Thy favor to bless our native land and to preserve in purity and integrity its free institutions for all coming time.
Bless our Order. Grant that it may long exist, and that it may continue to be an instrument of great good to all. Give us willing hands and ready hearts properly to carry out its principles and objects. Keep green in our minds the memory of those both living and dead, who sacrificed so much that the life of the Nation might be preserved, and deal with them in all things with Thy special mercy.
Give us Thy aid in conducting the business for which we are here assembled, and so endow us that Charity and Justice, Peace and Harmony shall ever remain and abide with us. Amen.
CAMP, in unison: Amen.
COMMANDER: Attention.
Opening Hymn
God bless our native land!
Firm may she ever stand,
Through storm and night;
When the wild tempests rave,
Ruler of wind and wave,
Do Thou our country save,
By Thy great might.
COMMANDER: Color Bearer, you will present the colors. Brothers, we will now give the pledge of allegiance.
CAMP, in unison: I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands; one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
COMMANDER: By virtue of the power and authority in me vested, I now declare … Camp No. … Department of Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, duly open for the transaction of such business, as may legally and properly come before it. Senior Vice Commander, the Camp is duly open; you will direct the Inner Guard to admit all brothers and visitors qualified and entitled to enter.
SENIOR VICE COMMANDER: Guard, you will admit all brothers and visitors entitled to enter.
All such in waiting will be admitted. This being done the Order of Business will be taken up and proceeded without delay.
Order of Business for the Camp
1. Opening of Camp.
2. Roll-call of Officers.
3. Reading of minutes.
4. Does any brother know of a sick veteran, or a veteran's family in distress?
5. Does any brother know of a sick brother, or a brother's family in distress?
6. Report of visiting committee.
7. Reports of investigating committees.
8. Balloting for candidates.
COMMANDER: Brothers, we are about to ballot for ... whose application has just been read. Those in favor of his election will deposit a white ball and those opposed a black ball.
You will proceed to vote.
9. Reading of applications for membership and reference of same to investigating committees.
10. Commander will instruct the Guide to ascertain and report if any candidates are in waiting.
11. Initiation of candidates.
12. Recess. Payment of dues is in order, at this time.
13. Reports of committees.
14. Readingand disposing of orders; communications and bills.
15. Unfinished business.
16. New business.
17. Good of the Order. Has the Patriotic Instructor anything to offer?
18. Report of treasurer.
19. Closing ceremonies.
GUIDE: Commander, I find … names in waiting, who has (or have) paid the required initiation fee and been duly elected.
COMMANDER: Guide, you will prepare the candidate(s) escort him (them) to the Camp room and present him (them) at the Altar.
To prepare the candidate the Guide will place in his left hand a small flag. If there is more than one candidate an escort will be designated for each. Before the obligation the Guide and escorts will relieve the candidate of the small flag.
GUIDE: Commander, the candidate(s) are at the Altar and I await your further instructions.
COMMANDER: Guide, you will conduct the candidate(s) once around the Camp room and to the station of the Patriotic Instructor from whom he (they) will receive a lesson in patriotism.
GUIDE: Patriotic Instructor, by direction of the Commander I introduce to you this (these) candidate(s) for instruction in Patriotism.
PATRIOTIC INSTRUCTOR: The fall of FortSumterwas the awakening of patriotism. Love of country exists in the heart of every American citizen, but it sometimes lies dormant until quickened by an appeal to that sentiment, by a crisis in national affaire. A true patriot's heart beats faster at the sight of his country's colors or at the sound of her martial music. A display of patriotism is one of the first objects of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. With the courage of your newly avowed convictions, you should, therefore, exhibit a patriotic demeanor in your daily life; rise to your feet and stand erect when our National Anthem "America" or the "Star Spangled Banner" is either played or sung within doors, salute the flag by uncovering when passing or being passed by the national colors, "Old Glory," salute on all occasions those who wear the badge or button of the Grand Army of the Republic, properly observe all national holidays, and especially Memorial Day. Endeavor to persuade others from devoting that day to sports, games and festivities. Aid in the teaching of loyalty and patriotism in public schools, and to those who were born under other flags, but have come to our land seeking the brotherhood of liberty in our great and free commonwealth. No nation ever perished from the map of the world on whose Altar the fire of patriotism was not suffered to dim and die.
Guide, conduct the candidate (s) to the Junior Vice Commander's station where he (they) will be instructed in Fraternity.
GUIDE: Junior Vice Commander, by direction of the Patriotic Instructor I present this (these) candidate(s) for instruction in Fraternity.
JUNIOR VIOE COMMANDER: Fraternity creates a bond that makes mankind akin. The golden chain of fraternal love, links together in strong embrace, the membership of any organization.
The Order of Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is bound by ties of more than common strength. Eligibility to its ranks is based on the patriotism and love of country displayed by our fathers in the hour of the Nation's greatest peril─a title that comes to us as a sacred and most precious heritage. We are organized, to preserve the memory of the men who enlisted in the defense of their country's honor and unity; to perpetuate and inculcate the principles for which they offered their lives, and to guard the results which they secured by their services and sacrifices.
Inspired by the spirit of fraternity that characterized the comradeship of the men who fought for the holy cause of justice and humanity, our pledge and purpose is to stand together, elbow to elbow, shoulder to shoulder, as stood the line of Union Blue. In fraternity we greet you, asking, expecting in return from you the same degree of fidelity which we so gladly give.
Guide, you will present the candidate(s) to the Senior Vice Commander for instruction in Charity.
GUIDE: Senior Vice Commander, I am directed by the Junior Vice Commander to present this (these) candidate(s) for instruction in Charity.
SENIOR VICE COMMANDER: Charity is one of the most Important principles inculcated by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. A charity which comes as quietly as the dew of heaven, comforting and making glad the hearts it touches and animating the giver with nobler thoughts and unselfish aims. We ofttimes have with us comrades or brothers whose strength is not sufficient, who may be overtaken by misfortune or who are brought to distress by any of the condition^ which may affect humanity. Let them lean upon our shoulders, share with us our portion and draw from us inspiration to hope and happiness. How often did the Union soldiers divide their last morsel of food and drink from the same canteen. Sick in camp or wounded in battle, they knew that the kind and loving hearts of their comrades were joined to brave and willing hands, the fevered brow was cooled, the parched lips were moistened and the last moments of the dying, were made blessed by the love born of their comradeship and seasoned in the conflict of battle. But our charity should go still further. It should be as broad as the blue vault of heaven itself .and as vast as the mind of mankind can conceive.
It should be that great charity that makes all a fraternal whole, overlooking the faults and failings of each other. That grand broad charity expressed by Lincolnwhen he said to the people of this nation then engaged in deadly warfare, "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on."
Guide, you will conduct the candidate(s) to the Commander's station for instruction in Loyalty.
GUIDE: Commander, I am directed by the Senior Vice Commander to present this (these) candidate(s) for instruction in Loyalty.
COMMANDER: Loyalty as exemplified by the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union soldier or sailor of the War of the Rebellion, should ever stir our hearts to greater love of country. The men who wore the Union Blue constituted the Grandest Army that ever marched beneath one flag. Their sacrifices have no parallel, and we, their flesh and blood, would be recreant sons of noble sires should we fail to revere their sacred memories. As the sun is the center of the solar system around which the earth and all other units of the system revolve and from which they receive light and heat and life, so the Grand Army of the Republic is the central luminary of the affiliated patriotic societies; from it our own and all the allied orders originated; from it they daily receive the warmth of patriotism and the radiance of loyalty. As the earth in its daily revolutions turns successively every land and nation to the face of the sun, the light of that great orb falls on no organization having as noble an origin or as worthy a history as the Grand Army of the Republic.
Grand Army of the Republic! That name ripens and enriches with age. Its honors multiply with the years of the nation. Its beneficent influence pervades all public life. It is the Standard of comparison for all heroic and loyal endeavor. States and cities have builded for it memorial halls and imposing monuments. The nation guards and cares for the final resting places of its loyal dead and remembers those who perished at sea. Poets, artists, sculptors and historians have made lavish use of the beauties of art and literature to record and preserve their fame.
The most beautiful service performed by the members of the Grand Army of the Republic is the placing of flowers upon the graves of their departed Comrades. When the last Veteran has joined his Comrades on the other shore, we, their sons, will, on each Memorial Day, strew the mounds beneath which rest their mortal forms with the flowers that grew in the soil they preserved to freedom. The proper observance of that day and its sacred memories, you are admonished to remember.
COMMANDER: Guide, you will conduct the candidate(s) to the Altar where he (they) will receive the obligation from the Chaplain.
The Guide presents the candidate(s) at the Altar and relieves him (them) of the flag. The Color Bearer having conveyed the Camp colors to the right side of the candidate(s). The Chaplain proceeds to the Altar. The Commander gives three raps (***) with the gavel.
C'HAPLAIN: You are now at the Altar of the Order of Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War for obligation, and I assure you that in taking this obligation it will not conflict with any duty you may owe your God, your country, or yourself. If you are willing to proceed, you will grasp the Standard of the flag with your right hand, placing your left hand upon the Bible, say,
"I," pronounce your name and repeat after me: I, …, in the presence of the Great Creator | and the witnessing members of this Camp, | hereby voluntarily and solemnly | pledge myself to support and defend | the government of the United States of America, | to offer my life | if need be | to preserve the flag | from being lowered in defeat; | to always observe the day | set aside by the Grand Army of the Republic | as Memorial (Decoration) Day, | sacred to the memory of the Union Soldiers and Sailors of 1861 to 1865 | and do all in my power | to persuade others to do the same; | to be faithful in all the duties of citizenship, | to be obedient to, the law of the land, | to obey the Constitution and Regulations of this Order, | and actively to promote its objects and interests | always and everywhere. | So help me God.
Chaplain returns to his station. Camp sings.
Our Father's God, to Thee,
Author of Liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With Freedom's holy light,
Protect us 'with Thy might,
Great God our King.
Commander seats the Camp (One rap *). Guide conducts the candidate(s) to the Commander's station. The Commander instructs the candidate(s) as follows:
COMMANDER: My Brother(s), in seeking admission into this, or any other Camp of Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, you will approach the outer door and give any alarm. The door will be opened by the Outer Guard to whom you will communicate in a whisper the current password which is …. This will admit you into the ante-room. You will then approach the inner door and give an alarm of three raps. You will then communicate in a whisper the current countersign which is … to the Inner Guard. You will then be admitted to the Camp room. You will approach the Altar and salute the Commander and being recognized you will proceed to your seat. The password and countersign is changed every six months and you can receive it only from the Commander and when in good standing.
In seeking admission into any Camp of which you are not a member, in addition to the foregoing, you will give your name and number of your Camp and the office you hold in the Order, if any.
The Flag.
With the obligation you have taken upon yourself, comes your full membership in our honored Order. If deep in your heart there lives the love of freedom, and of patriotic devotion to the principles and institutions for which your father fought, then no personal danger, no selfish consideration, can quench that love and make you prove recreant or disloyal to that flag.
And what of this flag you 'have borne through our ceremonies! There are no words that can picture its transcendent glory. It had its birth amid the thunders of battle, while fathers, sons and brothers fought, and mothers, wives, daughters and sweethearts prayed─for freedom. The crimson of those stripes was caught from the best blood that was ever poured on Freedom's altar. The prayers of the purest souls that ever faced the Great White Throne are woven into its bars of gleaming white. Its field of blue is a fragment of heaven itself, wherein are set God's glittering stars of eternal hope for man.
Born of the conflict for our national freedom, that flag has maintained in every hour of its history its one grand idea of liberty. It witnessed the sufferings and the triumphs of a patriot army; under it rode Washington, and before it Burgoyne and Cornwallis laid down their arms. It became the incarnation of the sublimest principles of free government that the ages have yet unfolded, and under it our beloved nation achieved peace, plenty and honor.
Later on, it dipped down into the darkness of treason's mad attempt, and plunged into the volley─smoke and deadly clash, to save our blood-boughtUnion and to banish the crime of slavery in our fair land. Now almost obscured by the clouds of defeat, now gleaming brightly in victory, it flashed along the crimson crests of Gettysburg; and treason's mad attempt received its mortal wound. Like a pillar of flame it led our hosts through the mists, up the rocky steeps to LookoutMountain; and achieved a victory above the clouds, as if rebuking treason before the very Throne of God. It lighted up the dark recesses of the Wilderness, and wherever it appeared the faces of the dying patriots reflected back its glory. Four red years it rode the crested wings of war, and emerged at Appomattoxwith no stripe obscured and no star erased.
This glorious banner has been the harbinger of liberty and of material and spiritual progress, not to our land alone, but to the oppressed and unfortunate of every race and clime. Its splendor is reflected in the lives and the love of millions from other lands, who 'here have found those blessings of freedom and happiness which were denied them by the countries of their birth. O'er tropic seas and polar wastes it has been borne by its gallant sons─to ports of the Orient and to far off islands of the Pacific─and everywhere its inspiring folds are hailed as the symbol of freedom, enlightenment and civilization for all mankind. To Cubait brought independence; the weaker republics of the continent it has protected from foreign aggression;
its eagles are the terror of tyranny and its stars the hope of all free peoples throughout the earth.
Then, when armed and arrogant autocracy combined to extend its inhuman and barbarous rule over the people of the world,America, inspired by the immortal example ofLafayette, sent two millions of her sons under the Star Spangled Banner to battle forLiberty 's cause on the war-torn fields ofFrance andFlanders . And there, and on the high seas, righteous victory attended our heroic soldiers and sailors, until they returned with our beloved banner resplendent with new honors, adding to the imperishable glory won by our fathers under Abraham Lincoln, in the War for theUnion. No flag that floats today, on earth, holds out so brave a hope for all mankind, or sheds such radiant light upon the path of human life.
Let us then entwine each thread of the glorious fabric of our country's flag around our hearts, and catching the spirit that breathes upon us from the battles and the victories of America's sons, let us resolve that now and forever we will stand for that flag and the principles and institutions it symbolizes.
It has waved over our cradles:─let us make the high resolve that, unchanged and unstained as it came from the hands of our fathers, it shall wave over our graves.
Presentation of Badge
Commander places badge in hand of the candidate so that he can study it during the explanation of its meaning.
COMMANDER: I now present you with the insignia of our Order. The inscription, "Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War," reminds us of our high estate and of our duty to our country.
We are the Sons of Union Veterans. May we prove ourselves worthy of this title. The ribbon is a union of red, white and blue, the colors of our country's flag: The red signifies the unstinted streams of blood, shed that the blessings of a free government might be our heritage, and that our own blood is pledged to preserve that which we so gladly have received: The blue tells us of that true faith and allegiance which our fathers held to their country and to each other, and exhorts us to be ever mindful of their example: The white speaks of that peace which with honor may our country ever enjoy.
The motto, "Preserved by the grace of God," reminds us that without the over-ruling hand of an all-wise Providencethe sacrifices of our fathers could have availed nothing, and that the favor of the same power alone can secure the preservation of our liberties.
Like the eagle, may we be quick to discover our country's needs, strong in its defense, and swift to carry out the objects of our Order.
Commander pins badge on left breast of new member.
May you wear this badge long and proudly, and may it ever be as a guiding star to you, in the discharge of your duties in private life and as a Son of a Union Veteran.
COMMANDER: Officers and Brothers, I take pleasure in introducing Brother(s), bound to us by the sacred ties of Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty. Let us give him (them) a brotherly welcome.
CAMP, in unison: Welcome in Fraternity, welcome in Charity, welcome in .Loyalty.
COMMANDER: Guide, you will conduct the Brother(a) to the Secretary's desk to sign the Constitution and Regulations and By-Laws.
The Camp will take a short recess during which the Senior Vice Commander will be in charge.
The time being up, the Commander at the expiration of the recess, will call the Camp to order, and the regular order of business will proceed.
Closing Ceremonies
COMMANDER: There being no further business to come before the Camp, we will proceed to close.
He will give three raps *** with the gavel: all will rise, and he will say:
COMMANDER: You will give attention while the Chaplain asks the blessing of God on our deliberations.
Closing Prayer
CHAPLAIN: Our Father in Heaven, we pray Thee to deal with the events of this evening as may seem well and fitting in Thy sight. Answer the honest petitions and desires of each one of us as may be most expedient for us. Preserve us in health, strength and integrity while Thou keepest us here, and when our mission on earth is ended, take us to a better world. Amen.
All will respond and say: Amen.
COMMANDER: Officers and Brothers: We are now about to leave this Camp and return to our respective homes. Let us all endeavor so to regulate our conduct that the honor and credit of our Order may be fully sustained. In conclusion, permit me to thank you for your attendance and for the assistance you have rendered in conducting the business of the Camp.
Color Bearer, you will attend the Altar.
I now declare … Camp No. … Department of … Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, duly closed until next meeting. *.
The Color Bearer will remain at his post until the Camp is closed before executing this order.