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U.S. Route 6 image.

U.S. Route 6 , also called the Grand Army of the Republic Highway.


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The Grand Army of the Republic:
Francis S. Long Post No. 30

The Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R..) was an organization of Union veterans of the Civil War. It began in 1866. There were three auxiliary organizations linked to the G.A.R..; the Woman's Relief Corps, (opens image in a new window) the Sons Of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic. The G.A.R.. was primarily responsible for the observance of Decoration Day, now called Memorial Day. It was said that the wife of G.A.R. commander, General Logan, got the idea when she saw women in Virginia decorating the graves of fallen Confederate soldiers. General Logan sent out a request that on May 30, 1868, all G.A.R. members would go to cemeteries and decorate the graves of their fallen comrades. The primarily Civil War atmosphere of Decoration Day faded away as the veterans of the Civil War either died or became too frail to carry on the custom and after WWI, the observance began to include all war dead.

Open a new window here to see a picture of the Town Hall's G.A.R.

In Willimantic/Windham, the Francis S. Long Post, No. 30, G. A. R., was organized March 30th, 1881. On September 26, 1896, the G.A.R. members became the first occupants of the new Town Hall as they began moving their furnishings and equipment from their old hall in the Loomer Opera House. The town of Windham provided the hall to the G.A.R. as a memorial to "the soldiers of Windham who served in the War of the Rebellion". (An interesting side note is that the Town of Windham, unlike almost every other town, had no Civil War monument. One that had been intended for Willimantic became caught up in the controversy over whether or not to build a new town hall. The monument meant for Willimantic ended up in New London. ) Windham tried to make up for this by providing the G.A.R. hall. (Click here to see a picture of the Town Hall's G.A.R. windows)

G.A.R. members in Windham were tremendous advocates of promoting loyalty. They went to one meeting of the school board and asked that the schools promote patriotism by holding special exercises around the time of Washington's birthday, Lincoln's birthday and other national holidays. The members themselves often went to the schools to give speeches and addresses, "instilling in the minds of the pupils a spirit of loyalty to the flag and patriotism".

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