Green River Star -

By Amanda Benson
Sweetwater County Historical Museum 

Artifact of the Month: The GAR flag

 


This month’s artifact of the month is the first of a four-month series revolving around World War I and patriotic artifacts.

The Sweetwater County Museum will host a traveling exhibit on World War I from mid-July to early October, to celebrate the war’s 100-year anniversary. We decided to design an accompanying exhibit as well as feature World War I artifacts for Artifact of the Month in conjunction of the traveling exhibit.

For July, we are featuring a 48-star American flag from 1905. The flag has “GAR 1905” written on it. GAR stands for the Grand Army of the Republic, which was a veterans organization existing from 1866 to 1956. The GAR commemorated veterans who fought in the Civil War and disbanded in 1956 after its last member passed away. This flag in particular was signed by a group of females, possibly the wives or widows of Civil War veterans.

The GAR was one of the first advocacy groups in the United States, and was also responsible for making what we now call Memorial Day a national holiday.

It was originally known as Decoration Day, and by the 20th century, both Union and Confederate were recognized American veterans. As the tradition grew, all fallen American soldiers in any war are officially recognized on the last Monday in May.

Since the flag was made in 1905, Alaska and Hawaii were not states at the time. Both states eventually were granted statehood in 1959, with Alaska joining in January that year, and Hawaii in August.

Come to the Sweetwater County Museum to check out this historic flag, as well our World War I exhibits later in the month.

We are open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

 

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