History of the
Scottish-American Military Society
Introduction by Charter Member:
Purdy McLeod, Jr.
Together, we went so far as to propose that a charter and bylaws be written. I prepared an initial draft. Later, a formal Charter and set of Bylaws were written and submitted to, and approved by the State of North Carolina. The Charter and Bylaws were later adopted at the initial membership meeting in July of 1981 at the Grandfather Mountain Games in North Carolina.
Continuation by National Commander Emeritus Al Ankrum - from information gathered from many SAMS members and from articles in The Patriot:
A number of United States War Veterans (veterans) were attending the July, 1980 Grandfather Mountain Highland Games (GMHG) in North Carolina. Many of these veterans had been friends for a number of years, and had over the years attended various highland games as members of Scottish Clans. When not participating in clan activities, these veterans (along with other veterans they would meet) would discuss things of mutual interest including military history, current military affairs, and war stories.
Among this group of veterans were Randy Downey, Jim Kilpatrick, Pat Little, Hal Morrison, and Doug Talley. Randy Downey had been among the group of veterans who had earlier met at the 1979 Flora McDonald Games. This meeting of veterans was special in that some of the veterans noted left the games for the day and met again that evening at the home of Alvera Morrison in Pineola, North Carolina not far from where the games were being held. The meeting that evening included Hal Morrison’s mother Alvera was also a war veteran.
As these veterans talked, they continued their long held views that there needed to be some type of formal group, or organization to represent veterans who were attending highland games. They felt such a group would provide an ongoing “clan” type arrangement for veterans to meet at games and exchange military information and stories. This would also provide a focus or location at games to have educational material on Scottish and American military history for the general public.
All agreed they needed to form such a group. Randy Downey proposed that the group be called The Scottish-American Military Society or as it was to become known as SAMS or SAMS-OWN (referring of course to Uncle Sam from the famous poster “I Want You for the U.S. Army” poster). In the next nine months, the organizers developed the organizational structure including a formal Charter for filing for the Articles of Incorporation, the Bylaws, membership structure, and its purposes.
On April 12, 1981, SAMS was incorporated as a voluntary, non-political, non-sectarian and non-profit, war veterans’ organization under the laws of the State of North Carolina, dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Scottish and American Armed Forces customs, traditions, and heritage. Subsequently, SAMS filed for and received U.S. Government Internal Revenue Service recognition as an IRS Code Section 501 (c) 19 Organization of War Veterans of the United States. Randy Downey served as President/National Commander on the corporate organizational papers.
The first official membership meeting of SAMS was held on July 11, 1981, at the GMHG just one year from the meeting in Pineola. As a meeting notice had been posted throughout the games area, a number of interested people were in attendance. SAMS’ incorporating Officers were introduced, and presentations about SAMS and its objectives were made and questions answered.
Incorporating NC Randy Downey then offered those in attendance and meeting membership requirements to come forward and join SAMS as Charter Life (CL) or Charter Regular (CR) members. Many individuals came forth and completed forms, as did Al Ankrum as CR-75. With those wishing membership signed up, nominations and elections of Officers and Councilors were held. William Wright (CL-2) was elected as SAMS’ first National Commander. The first election of SAMS’ full Council (i.e. Board) comprising all its Officers and Councilors (at large) was completed at that meeting.
SAMS Operations through the Years
Over the years, SAMS expanded in its membership and became a nationwide organization. In 1982, The Patriot, SAMS’ newsletter was started. In 1986, the Bylaws were changed to permit the establishment of local SAMS Posts or Chapters. In 1987, The Patriot was awarded “First Place” for Service to Special Audiences in the 2nd Annual Newsletter Competition held by The Scottish American (newspaper) and the Council of Scottish Clans and Associations.
Also in 1987, SAMS (perhaps the nation’s smallest war veterans organization) joined a National Joint Veterans Committee of the American Legion, VFW, and other large national groups for the Bicentennial for the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia, PA. Not only did SAMS participate, SAMS was chosen by the Committee to lead the “Parade of Americans” section of the parade. SAMS through a private donation had brought The Black Watch Pipes and Drums of Canada to Philadelphia to mass with the colors provided by SAMS for the parade.
In 1988, SAMS achieved its membership goal set in 1981 by surpassing the 1000 member mark. Also in 1988, SAMS was participating in 36 games in 22 states out of a total of 74 games in the annual calendar for that year. Regional Commanders were appointed to assist Posts and Post Development. By 1989, SAMS was providing scholarships for piping students, had designed and released to SAMS Posts its National SAMS Flag, and was accepting U.S. Medal of Honor and U.K Victoria Cross awardees as Honored Life Members (HLM). By 1995, SAMS had organized 10 Regions, and 22 Posts in 16 states.
Through the last part of the 1990s, SAMS continued its expansion. Membership applications continued to be issued, and signed-up member ID numbers had been issued through #2500. Sadly, many of our WWII and Korean War members were passing on, but current membership had been maintained at the approximate 1,000 level by the end of 1999 and the number of posts remained at 22. SAMS through The Patriot continued its early relationship with the Scots-at-War Trust in the UK.
The years between 2000 and 2005 saw not only an expansion of SAMS in both its number of members and posts, but also in its influence in the Scottish-American community. In 2000, The Patriot was expanded to a 50 page quarterly journal. Also, in 2000, SAMS established its Internet website at www.S-A-M-S.org. A National Tartan Day (established in 1998 by Senate Resolution 115) celebration was held at the U.S. Capitol. Then Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was presented with the American - Scottish Foundation’s William Wallace Award for his co-sponsorship of the Senate Resolution. SAMS participated in the celebration and the concurrent Scottish Festival at Freedom Plaza (the first Scottish Festival to be held in the District of Columbia).
In 2001, SAMS expanded its participation in the National Tartan Day ceremony held on the steps of the Capitol by organizing the Color Party (including members of SAMS, the Baltimore and Washington St. Andrews Societies and others) and facilitating the participation of the Air Force Reserve Command Pipe Band. Honorary SAMS Memberships were accepted by attending members of the Scottish Parliament and by members of the U.S. Senate who were active the establishment of NTD or had supported the U.S. military in various ways. This time, SAMS would also help in the organizing of, and participate in the first Scottish Gathering on the Capitol Mall.
In 2002, SAMS was invited to join in The Scottish Coalition (TSC). TSC is a group of eight nationally recognized Scottish-American organizations. TSC was among those instrumental in bringing about NTD and developing other national programs. SAMS’ National Commander along with the President of the Washington SAS acting as individuals incorporated the National Capital NTD Committee (NCTDC). The NCTDC was intended to further the future activities of NTD in Washington D.C. By 2004, SAMS was participating in most of the Scottish games in the U.S. This participation included Color Parties and Post Tents providing educational information.
In 2005, SAMS Posts were now meeting throughout the country and awarding SAMS Achievement Medals to JROTC students in High Schools as well as issuing financial grants to local non-profits or military organizations. SAMS Camps were now being developed to allow smaller groups of members to organize. National SAMS continued to issue awards to University ROTC students for exceptional performance, and was considering developing an associated not-for-profit organization to accept scholarship donations. Membership now approximated 1100 and 34 posts had been established across the United States with new SAMS Posts being developed each year.
25 Years and Counting
In 2006, SAMS achieved a major milestone - 25 years old. At a highland game attended by our then National Commander and our Corporate Counsel, the Lord Lyon of Scotland had been the “Honored Guest”. Our Commander and Counsel both being familiar with Scottish Arms met with the Lord Lyon, and reviewed with him SAMS’ history and its objectives. The Lord Lyon showed interest, and said a request for a "Grant of Arms" could be received from SAMS and reviewed for its appropriateness for making a grant of arms. The officers of SAMS were enthusiast about making such a request, and the request was made.
2006 also saw SAMS electing its first woman NVC. SAMS also developed a new official SAMS Dirk that could be used for National and Post awards. The Comptroller’s Report in The Patriot showed the Society’ financial position to be very strong - SAMS had really come a long way from its beginnings.
In 2007, new Bylaws were proposed to, and approved by the membership. These Bylaw changes were a result of a perceived need for a more specific and formal set of Bylaws to support the continued expansion of SAMS and the growing responsibilities of its national management.
2008 was banner year for SAMS. The Lord Lyon granted SAMS “Letters of Patent”. These Letters of Patent approved SAMS as a “Society Noble of the Noblesse of Scotland” and granted SAMS with official “Scottish Arms”. SAMS continued to be a strong supporter of NTD through its member assigned as its formal NTD Liaison in Washington, D.C. On April 4th, President George W. Bush issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring April 6th as National Tartan Day. President Bush’s Proclamation followed earlier Senate and House Resolutions which SAMS also supported. Technical revisions proposed in 2007 to the Bylaws were accepted by the membership.
The cover of a 2009 issue of The Patriot displayed in full color the SAMS Arms, Badge, and Battle Flag. As “Corporate” arms, SAMS’ Arms are authorized to be worn my members. The Quartermaster started to make approved copies of the Arms available to all Posts and members. The National Commander, Officers and the Councilors began working together (as required by the recently approved Bylaws changes) to implement those Bylaws changes and develop related long term policies. Additionally, a detailed Study by the Councilors was begun to evaluate how SAMS could be more effectively managed to meet the challenges of continued growth in the future.
In 2010, SAMS had another signature event with the acceptance of Honorary Membership by HRH Edward, Prince of Wessex. A special Certificate of Membership was presented to the Prince at the Greenville, SC Highland Games. The Patriot expanded its colorization to include the SAMS On Parade section.
The Study started in 2009 to evaluate the changing needs of SAMS’ management ended with the conclusion that management’s needs have been constantly changing and will continue to change in the future. The Study also concluded that these changes, while appropriate and needing to be implemented by management to maintain operations, were often in conflict with policies contained within the Bylaws. These conflicts then required the Bylaws Committee to frequently draft and propose changes to eliminate these conflicts. The proposed changes then had to be submitted to the membership for approval. All in all, this became a to frequent, to costly, and to time consuming effort.
To solve the problem, new Bylaw changes were proposed and approved, by the membership, removing management policies from the Bylaws. Additional changes also allowed the Council (as is authorized by North Carolina Law) to act in all matters for the Membership with the exception of Elections and changes to the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. The full Council under these changes reserved to itself the establishment of, and changes to "Regulations" that would govern the future management of the Society.
In 2011, the Council approved initial Regulations establishing how it would carry out its new responsibilities relating to directing the management of SAMS. The Council continues to develop and/or modify its Regulations while providing timely flexibility when and where needed. At the end of 2011, SAMS ended its 30th year of operations in a strong membership, management, and financial position to meet the future.
In 2012, SAMS authorized the placement of advertisements in The Patriot to help offset the costs of publication. 2013 saw the increased use of Regional Meetings to facilitate Inter-Post communication and cooperation. The full Council now itself held the required National Annual Meeting as required by North Carolina law. Previous Annual Meetings of the Membership had proved to be poorly attended by the membership (quorum issues), expensive and impractical for a nationwide organization.
2014 saw SAMS fully entering the internet age of social media. Facebook was already in use by many Posts, and National began it own involvement. Online fund raising was used by SAMS to fund Grants approved by the full Council to organizations providing unmet services to veterans. SAMS continued to recognize those who had supported NTD by honoring U.S. House Member Mike McIntyre with an Honorary SAMS membership. Rep. McIntyre along with Rep. Duncan co-sponsored House Resolution 41 which recognized NTD.
A summary of SAMS in 2015 finds SAMS with 43 Posts and 5 Camps spread across these United States. SAMS has 1,111 Regular Members, 573 Life Members, 74 Honorary Members, and our membership is consistent with IRS Regulations governing 501 (C) 19 Veterans Organizations. In total, 4500 members have passed through the ranks of SAMS. SAMS’ Assets and Equity remain at a healthy level sufficient to meet the needs of the Society. The Society is fully prepared to enter into its 35th year of operations in 2016 and beyond.
SAMS owes a debt of gratitude to its National Commanders, other officers and Councilors who have served it through the years. Terms of National Commanders from 1981 to 2016 were:
Randy Downey (NC for Incorporation), William Wright(1st Elected NC), Pat Little, Jack Moore, Al Ankrum, Al Ankrum, Donald McDowell, James Kilpatrick, James Kilpatrick, David Rutherford, James Shearer, Al Ankrum, Al Ankrum, Al Ankrum, Tim Lally, Tim Lally, Bill McKillop, Bill McKillop, Tim Cooke, Tim Cooke, Jerry Paul, Howard Farquharson (note: some terms listed were partial terms).
The services of NCs Randy Downey and Al Ankrum were recognized by designating them as National Commanders Emeritus. Special thanks are also acknowledged for the services of the late General Raymond G. Davis, MOH, USMC (Ret.) who served as Councilor on the SAMS Council for many years.
A special debt of gratitude is owed to Merritt Powell who has served as National Adjutant General (1985 to 1992) and (1997 to 2005). SAMS recognized the long service of Merritt Powell by designating him as SAMS’ Honorary Command Sergeant Major.
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