This patriotic tombstone inscription is the symbol of the Grand Army of the Republic.
The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was a patriotic organization comprised of Union Civil War Veterans. One of its purposes was the “defense of the late soldiery of the United States, morally, socially, and politically.” The organization was founded in Springfield, Illinois, in 1866 and had more than 400,000 members at its peak in 1890. In its day the GAR was a powerful political influence and was usually aligned with Republican policy.
As the Civil War veterans passed away the GAR dwindled and the organization permanently dissolved in 1956. Their records went to the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, and their badges, flags, and official seal went to the Smithsonian Institution.
Sometimes the soldier’s service information in is also inscribed on the tombstone.
There may be a GAR flag staff at the base of the veteran’s tombstone.
Memorial Day, which was observed yesterday, began as a way to remember and honor both Union and Confederate soldiers who were killed in battle during the Civil War. After WWI Memorial Day was extended to honor Americans who died in all wars. Now on Memorial Day we honor all American veterans who have died.