Memorial Day 1912
After the Civil War veterans formed fraternal organizations to keep together the bonds of friendship and camaraderie formed during the war. The Grand Army of the Republic was founded in April 1866 for Union veterans on the principles of “Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty” in Decatur, Illinois. The GAR was organized into “Departments” at the state level and “Posts” at the community level, and military-style uniforms were worn by its members. There were posts in every state in the U.S. The GAR reached its largest enrollment in 1890, with 490,000 members.
The GAR became a powerful force in the Republican party promoting voting rights for African American veterans recognizing their patriotism. African American veterans shunned black veterans’ organizations in preference for racially inclusive groups such as the GAR. In the 1880s African American veterans joined in significant numbers and organized local posts but while the organization was advocating for federal pensions for veterans they failed to press the case for pensions for black soldiers. Most African American troops never received any pension or remuneration for wounds incurred during their service.
On May 30, 1912 the United States celebrated Memorial Day. It is also the 50th anniversary of the Civil War. African American members of the GAR marched in New York City.
African American Civil War veterans march on Memorial Day – May 30, 1912