GALLIPOLIS — During the final evening of the ROCKS after school program at Gallia Academy Middle School (GAMS) last Thursday, a group of middle schoolers made the trek to the city park to encamp with the Cadot-Blessing Camp #126 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) for an afternoon in history.
The ROCKS program, which stands for recreation, opportunity, culture, knowledge and skills, is an after school program nationally funded through a 21st Century Learning Center Grant and coordinated by the Gallia-Vinton Educational Service Center.
The program, which is open to all GAMS students, sixth through eighth grades, allows those who participate to not only get help with their homework, but to also participate in various activities, including, as on Thursday, a brief trip back in time.
Several members of the Cadot-Blessing Camp #126 who gathered last week, dressed in their Civil War regalia, spoke to the students of not only the history of the American Civil War that lasted from 1861-1865, including its local ties, but also gave the students an opportunity to learn a few of the military drills of the Civil War.
According to Camp Commander Jim Oiler, maintaining and passing on the history of Civil War and the memory of those who fought it in is one of the missions of the SUVCW.
“Part of our duty is education. We’re an educational, patriotic and historic organization, so any time we get the opportunity, we like to reinforce to children that we are here in these United States because of what these boys who wore the blue did for us,” Oiler said.
Oiler reported that 2013 is the continuation of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, or 150th Anniversary of the Civil War — this year being the 150th anniversary of the year 1863 and the battles of Vicksburg, Chancellorsville, and most notably, the battle of Gettysburg, and, locally, the battle of Buffington Island, which occurred in Portland, Meigs County.
“We always try to take the opportunity to educate young people and try to get them to think this country isn’t the way it is without a lot of sacrifice,” Oiler stated. “They know about modern wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan, and so forth, but they know very little about the Civil War and most people don’t know much about it.”
The Sons of Union Veterans is a congressionally chartered organization made up of several departments, consisting of one or more states, which are in turn, made up of several community-based camps, including the local Cadot-Blessing Camp #126.
The SUVCW membership is one of five allied orders dedicated to preserving the memory of the Grand Army of the Republic, the very first veterans’ organization in the United States comprised solely of Civil War veterans, and continues to uphold the principals of the Grand Army of the Republic — fraternity, charity and loyalty.
Membership in a SUVCW camp is exclusive to those men who can trace their ancestry back to one or more ancestors who fought in the Civil War.
Locally, according to Oiler, many members of his camp are veterans themselves, and are always seeking new members to join their ranks, no matter their age, just so long as they have proof of their ancestral ties to the Civil War.
Oiler further reported that later this year, through their continued investment in honoring the memory of the Civil War veterans, the Cadot-Blessing Camp #126 will be dedicating a monument in the Pine Street Cemetery in honor of the Civil War veterans buried there.
“Let’s not forget what these men did,” Oiler stated. “It was a 150 years ago, it’s true, but right over there was Virginia and imagine if things had turned out differently.”
For more information on the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, visit www.suvcw.org. For more information on the local SUVCW camp, including information about membership, contact Commander Jim Oiler at (740) 245-0134 or via email at email@example.com.