|Civil War vets meet at Gettysburg for the 75th anniversary of the battle (1938) along|
the stone wall at the 'Angle' on Cemetery Ridge.
Well it is Memorial Day weekend. It is a an important date for Americans because it honors our soldiers, sailors and airmen who have died in combat. It used to be called Decoration Day just after the Civil War. In those days it was a celebration of the Civil War dead and veterans of the war. The Grand Army of the Republic (known as the G.A.R.) was a fraternal organization of Northern Vets and they embraced the notion of Decoration Day. Veterans would march around the town in a big parade in their old uniforms and have picnics too. They would also go to the cemeteries and honor those that passed before them in battle and after. It was changed eventually to honor all those that had died in all wars.
|a G.A.R. hat badge|
The post war time was really a fascinating time period. Much was accomplished by the GAR with their political power. All the local GAR posts were attached to the National organization and when you have thousands and thousands of veteran members, many of which served in the Congress, you have political power right there. That is a solid voting block. Several US Presidents were GAR members. Most of the National Parks preserving land on which battles were fought and the thousands of monuments all over the country owe their existence to the GAR. Many states and the Federal government provided millions of dollars for these projects.
|a GAR marker to be placed at the gravesites of GAR members|
If you are interested in reading more on this topic pick up the book Glorious Contentment by Stuart McConnell.