Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Monument to the Grand Army of the Republic,
a fraternal order established in 1866 for Union Army veterans of the Civil War.

For today's Another Dead Guy Statue Day, I bring you the monument to the Grand Army of the Republic. The GAR was the first fraternal order of war veterans founded in the United States after the Civil War. The GAR was founded for Union Army veterans by Benjamin Stephenson, M.D., in Decatur, Illinois, in April 1866. The order was a mix of freemasonry and military structure meant to give veterans of the 'War of Rebellion' a place to meet with those who understood and appreciated the shared experience of combat.

The GAR is considered one of the first special interests groups to lobby in Washington and, for many years, no Republican was nominated to run for the presidency without the endorsement of the GAR. The group was instrumental in pension legislation and the creation of old soldiers' homes, which eventually became the Department of Veterans Affairs. At its pinnacle in 1890, the GAR boasted membership numbers of nearly half a million.

American's can thank the GAR for the holiday that is now used to mark the annual beginning of this country's summer vacation season. Two years after its inception, the organization issued General Order #11 calling for May 30 to be designated as a day of remembrance for Union veterans. The holiday was originally called "Decoration Day" and later evolved into a national holiday known as Memorial Day.

This memorial is located in the plaza at the corner of 7th Street and Pennsylvania and Indiana Avenues NW.

Zip: 20004

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential (Janet M Kincaid, 08/07)

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