This is a picture of the GAR Memorial in Washington, DC. Click on the photo to learn more.
One of the first things I learned about my great-great grandfather Thomas F. Blalock was that his headstone was inscribed with "GAR". I didn't know what this meant, so I posted a query back in 1996 in the Usenet newsgroup soc.history.war.us-civil-war, and I got the following response, which is so excellent that I saved a hard copy, and I would like to quote it here.
"The Grand Army of the Republic was a veteran's organization for ex-Union army members. It was formed in 1867 by Gen. Logan and [a] few others as a political wing for the radical Republicans, but it became a true veteran's organization in spite of their efforts. The sole criteria for membership was an honorable discharge from any Union army. It became very powerful politically in the later part of the 19th century to the point where the major portion of the U.S. Government's budget was benefits for its members (pensions, bonus, etc.). It had a very strong influence on government policies. President Cleveland backed off an announced plan to return the Confederate battle flags to the South during his administration because of their opposition (Teddy R. did it much later). Because of its unique membership criteria, which they adamently refused to change, the G.A.R. came to an end. They were the main force behind the Memorial Day holiday which was expanded over the years to include all U.S. military veterans. A lot of their meeting halls became memorials. I happen to belong to G.A.R. Post 20 in Aurora, Illinois. (Jack Rosecrans)
(3/19/2000) This week I finally got around to mailing in my application for membership in the Daughters of Union Veterans! It was almost two years ago that I first e-mailed my enquiry for information on how to join. The main reason it took so long is that the DUV demands extensive documentation which proves one's lineal descent from a Civil War Union Veteran. Not only did I need to collect all the birth/death certificates and copies of census records, regimental muster rolls and pension applications going back four generations, but they all had to be notarized too! I told the lady who did the notary public certification for me that I had never before had to prove so much about myself, not even when I applied for a driver's license or Social Security number! (OK, I admit that neither the DMV nor the SS Administration cared who my great-great-grandfather was, but still....)
I'm anxiously awaiting word that my application was approved, then I hope to become an active member, and also to notify my siblings that they and their children can join using my documentation.
Last updated March 19, 2000
Photograph, format and commentary copyright 2000 by Jessie Blalock