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story.lead_photo.caption The first induction ceremony for Camp Lillie, a branch of Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, was held Sunday at National Cemetery. Photo by Gerry Tritz / Fulton Sun.

Jefferson City's only chapter of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War started Sunday with the induction of 15 members.

The organization is called Camp Lillie, named after the Union encampment Gen. John C. Fremont founded in Jefferson City for his Army of the West in September 1861.

Other than the inductees, about a dozen people came to the ceremony at National Cemetery.

The local group was founded by Pete Oetting, a longtime Civil War buff who used to listen to his grandmother tell about his grandfather's Civil War service.

Oetting said the group carries ideals such as patriotism, community and charity.

"The sad thing is patriotism has become a dirty word sometimes in this country. It's not," Oetting said. "Because it also leads into the respect and rule of law. With this group, we don't kneel, we stand. The only time we kneel is before God."

Mayor Carrie Tergin declared the day "Camp Lillie Day" in a proclamation that congratulated the group. "We support and honor the memory of their ancestors who fought and, in some instances, died to preserve the United States of America," the proclamation read, in part.

Camp Lillie takes the place of other Civil War veterans groups no longer active.

The original Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Post 6 was organized soon after the war by local veterans.

As they aged, their sons picked up the organization as Camp Garfield. But as they aged, the group disbanded.

Initially, the GAR was active in ways similar to today's American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars. In particular, they helped soldiers, widows and orphans gain the pension benefits due to them.

Today, the sons' camps serve more as a place to discover and share history.

"We want people to be aware of the Civil War and reminded of the price paid," Oetting said previously. "To join, we pay dues, but our ancestors already paid the price."

Anyone interested in being a part of the group can contact Mark Schreiber at 619-0580. Oetting said the group will help people establish their family's historical link to the Civil War, if needed.

California Democrat editor Michelle Brooks contributed to this story.

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