Then & Now
The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), the first prominent U.S. veterans’ organization, was founded in 1866. By 1890, it had more than 400,000 members with 619 posts in Pennsylvania alone. The GAR lobbied for state and federal soldiers’ homes, helped obtain pensions for veterans and their widows and orphans, and helped preserve the memory of the war and a culture of patriotism.
Veterans marched in uniform in community parades on patriotic holidays. For the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, 50,000 veterans returned to the battlefield to re-enact the violent clash of armies where so many of their comrades had fallen.
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