Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Grand Army of the Republic

Civil War Battle Flag Program, Open House to Mark 150th Anniversary of Grand Army of the Republic

Grand Army of the Republic
Grand Army of the Republic
Michigan DNR MDNR
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Lansing, MI -(AmmoLand.com)- On the night of April 6, 1866, 13 veterans of the Union Army of the Civil War gathered in an upstairs room in a small, brick building in Decatur, Illinois.

The veterans’ organization they formed that night, the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), would influence the nation they fought to save for the next 90 years.

Michigan’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Grand Army of the Republic will begin with a presentation by Matt VanAcker on the state’s Civil War battle flags collection Wednesday, April 6, at 6 p.m. Taking place at the Michigan Historical Center, located at 702 W. Kalamazoo St. in Lansing, this event is sponsored by the Friends of Michigan History, the Michigan Historical Center, and Michigan’s Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall and Museum.

Approximately 90,000 Michigan soldiers fought in the American Civil War, and nearly 15,000 died. The bullet-torn, blood-stained battle flags that these men carried were their proudest possessions. VanAcker, who serves as the director of the State Capitol Tour and Information Service and as co-chair of Save the Flags, has spent the better part of the last 20 years assisting in the care, research and conservation of Michigan’s battle flag collection.

The GAR 150th anniversary commemoration continues with an open house at Michigan’s Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall and Museum – located at 224 South Main St. in Eaton Rapids – Saturday, April 9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, April 10, from noon to 5 p.m. In addition to the two floors of artifacts and memorabilia from the Grand Army and its Allied Orders, special exhibits will be available. A silent auction will be held Saturday afternoon. Refreshments will be served both days, with a special 150th birthday cake in honor of the Grand Army Sunday.

Five U.S. presidents belonged to the GAR, and its members led the legislatures of most northern states and Congress. Among the local, state and national issues advocated by the Grand Army of the Republic were legislation promoting pensions for all veterans, the establishment of homes for veterans, voting rights for black veterans, and the establishment of May 30 as Memorial Day throughout the country. The organization helped create later veterans’ organizations, including the Spanish-American War Veterans, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. It also sanctioned the creation of five Allied Orders of the Grand Army of the Republic that today ensure the legacy of the Grand Army.

Michigan’s GAR Memorial Hall and Museum is dedicated to ensuring that the memory, deeds and accomplishments of the GAR and its members in Michigan’s 460-plus posts are not forgotten. The museum is free to the public.

The Michigan Historical Center tells the real stories of Michigan in order to help people discover, enjoy and find inspiration in their heritage. It comprises the Michigan Historical Museum, 10 regional museums, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve, and the Archives of Michigan.

The Michigan Historical Museum offers three levels of permanent and changing exhibits that tell the story of Michigan's past from pre-contact through the late 20th century.

About the Michigan Department of Natural Resources:

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations.

For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.

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    John Carr
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    John Carr

    My Great Grandfather Amos Carr was in the GAR after the war. I have his GAR hat, or I must say what’s left of it. The fabric is mostly gone but the bill and GAR emblem are like new.