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Dept Michigan
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Past Department Commander's Badge

Department of Michigan

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

 

Keith G. Harrison, PCinC

Department Commander 1985-1987

Commander in Chief 1994-1995

Keith G. Harrison of Holt, Michigan, was elected Commander-in-Chief of the National Organization of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) on August 13, 1994 at the 113th National Encampment in Lansing, Michigan. Brother Harrison's ascension represented the fourth Michiganian in the then 113-year history of the Order and the first in 46 years to serve in the Order's highest office. The three other Commanders-in-Chief from Michigan prior to 1994 were: Marvin E. Hall (1892/1893), Urion W. Mackey (1944/1945) and Perle L. Fouch (1948/1949). Brother Harrison served as Commander-in-Chief until August 12, 1995.

In addition to serving as Commander-in-Chief, Brother Harrison has served the Order in several national capacities, including: Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief, Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief, Patriotic Instructor, Membership-at-Large Coordinator, History Book Coordinator, and Council of Administration member. Within his native state of Michigan, he has served as Department Commander for three years, Senior Vice Commander for two years, Department Council Chair for two years, and Department Chief of Staff for seven years. He is a charter member of Curtenius Guard Camp #17 of Lansing-Sunfield, which he organized in 1983. Within his local camp, he has served as Camp Commander (three years), Camp Secretary (four years), Camp Treasurer (two years), and Camp Historian (four years). He has been a member of the Order since 1981 and a life member since 1986.

Since serving as Commander-in-Chief, Brother Harrison has continued to serve the Order as a member of the National Council of Administration (1995/96), Communications Technology Committee (1995 - Present), Constitution and Regulations Committee (1996 - 1998), National Committee on Grand Army of the Republic Records (2001 - Present), National Signals Officer (2000 to 2002), National Webmaster (1998 to 2002), Backup National Webmaster (2002 to Present), and National Webmaster for the SUVCW's Sons of Veterans Reserve (SVR) (1998 - Present). In 1999, he was awarded the Order's Meritorious Service Award and in 2001, he along with then National Counselor James B. Pahl were awarded the Order's Cornelius F. Whitehouse Outstanding Brother Award.

Brother Harrison traces his SUVCW eligibility back to 28 Michigan Civil War soldiers, including one great-great-great-grandfather (Captain Joseph Harper, 12th Michigan Volunteer Infantry, Company A), three great-great-grandfathers, eight great-great-granduncles, and 16 cousins. The Michigan regiments represented by his ancestors include the 1st, 2nd, 11th, 12th, 15th, 18th, 19th, 25th, 27th, and 28th Volunteer Infantries; the 4th, 8th, 10th and 11th Volunteer Cavalries; and the 13th and 14th Batteries. The regiment with the greatest number of his ancestors was the 12th Michigan Volunteer Infantry, with three grandfathers, four uncles and one cousin. The 12th Michigan went directly from Niles, Michigan, to Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, two weeks before the Battle of Shiloh. During that battle, several of his relatives were captured. Brother Harrison also has an ancestor who served with the Confederacy, Private James Brewster, 11th Kentucky Cavalry.

Brother Harrison was a Civil War reenactor from 1981 - 1997 and rose through the ranks. He remains a member and former Captain of the 7th Michigan Volunteer Infantry, Company B., Inc. and a Major, periodically serving as Chief of Staff with the Cumberland Guard, a nationally recognized Civil War reenactment association. Within the SUVCW's SVR, he served as (Brevet) Brigadier General and Commanding Officer during 1996/97 and currently holds the rank of Major (Retired) in the SVR Inactive Reserve. Previous SVR service includes Chief of Infantry for the Third Military District, SVR and organizer and Commander of the 30th Michigan Volunteer Infantry, SVR. During his active reenactment career, he participated in more than 500 reenactments, parades and ceremonies, and served innumerable times at reenactments as an infantry company commander, infantry battalion commander, and overall Union army commander. Major Harrison became knowledgeable and well practiced in Hardee, Casey and Coupee, and competent in 1861-1865 U.S. Army company, battalion, brigade and army-level infantry drill and tactics. He participated in most of the 125th and 130th anniversary Civil War battle reenactments. Major Harrison's years and reputation within the 7th Michigan and the Cumberland Guard also resulted in him being commemorated in song:

HARRISON, KEITH HARRISON
(Sung to the tune of Maryland, My Maryland)

He sets up early Friday night - Harrison, Keith Harrison.
One of the first upon the site - Harrison, Keith Harrison.
He's drilled us all on how to fight,
He's told us what's wrong and what's right,
The smile comes from his beard so white- Harrison, Keith Harrison.

He takes the role of staff chief - Harrison, Keith Harrison.
His soldiers have the golden leaf - Harrison, Keith Harrison.
Your knowledge is beyond belief,
With cartridges between our teeth,
We'll follow you, oh Major Keith - Harrison, Keith Harrison.

When rain clouds cover up the sky - Harrison, Keith Harrison.
And shelter tents can't keep us dry - Harrison, Keith Harrison.
You make the boring times go by,
And that is why we wonder why,
You just can't help but like this guy - Harrison, Keith Harrison.

To battle he will march along - Harrison, Keith Harrison.
With guiding words to make us strong - Harrison, Keith Harrison.
If you're a farb and look all wrong,
He'll make you feel like you belong,
To you we sing this stupid song - Harrison, Keith Harrison.

____________________________
Lyrics by Private Partz (Matt Merta).
© 1994 Boomba Records.

Brother Harrison belongs to several historical, patriotic, and civic organizations, including the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS), in which he currently serves as National Chancellor-in-Chief, National Webmaster, and National Membership List Coordinator, and, from 1986 to 2003, Michigan Commandery Commander. He also belongs to the Society of Mayflower Descendants; Society of Colonial Wars; Sons of the Revolution; Society of the War of 1812; Morgan's Men Association Inc.; Military Order of the World Wars; and Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels (Commissioned twice, once in 1988 and again in 2003). He also is a Mason (Lodge #252 of Okemos, Michigan and Civil War Research Lodge #1865 of Highland Springs, Virginia).

Brother Harrison is a 1968 graduate of Cassopolis (Michigan) High School. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree (1972) in fisheries and wildlife biology from Michigan State University and a Master of Arts degree (1974) in ecology from Western Michigan University. He is licensed as a Registered Sanitarian and as a Registered Environmental Health Specialist, and is nationally certified as a Senior Ecologist. His professional research and work have resulted in more than 90 publications addressing a wide variety of environmental, environmental health, natural history, and resources management topics. He has been published in local, state, national, and international societal journals. He retired from the State of Michigan in February 2005 after serving for 25 years. During his state career, he served as a Public Health Consultant with the Department of Public Health, Senior Environmental Specialist with the Toxic Substance Control Commission, Environmental Affairs Manager for the Department of Corrections, Director of the Environmental Administration Division within the Department of Management and Budget, Director of the Office of Special Environmental Projects within the Department of Environmental Quality, Acting Director of the Office of the Great Lakes and Executive Director of the Michigan Environmental Science Board. The latter two positions were gubernatorial appointments by then Governor John Engler. At one point in his career, he held the latter three state positions simultaneously. He currently operates his consulting firm, KGH Environmental, PLC, and serves as a special federal employee on a subcommittee with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Science Advisory Board.

Brother Harrison has been married twice, his first marriage to Linda (Dodson) Harrison in 1976, and his second to Jean (Whitmer) Harrison in 1990. He has one son, Nathan Lewis Harrison, who is a life member of the Order. His interest in history and genealogy peaked with the birth of his son, when he wrote and published a 350-page genealogy, The Ancestry of Nathan Lewis Harrison. The book documents his son's ancestry back to the year 938 A.D. and identifies more than 150 families and 1,600 individuals who preceded him. A copy of the book was provided to the Order in 1989.

(March 2005)

 

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  Last updated on June 26, 2005 2:38 PM - webmaster