Congratulations to Dan Rittel, 2017 recipient of the SUVCW Meritorious Service Award for his efforts on the Grand Army of the Republic Highway - Iowa
Iowa towns that previously had a G. A. R. post through which US Highway 6 passed in 1947
the year the Grand Army of the Republic Highway was dedicated in Iowa:
Davenport - August Wentz Post #1
Wilton - Henry Seibert Post #250
Atalissa - Charles Mitchner Post #362
West Liberty - Silas Jackson Post #255
Iowa City - Samuel J. Kirkwood Post #8
Marengo - John Dillon Post #233 & Col. John Connell Post #499
Ladora - W. B. Bricker Post #145
Victor - I. M. Huston Post #394
Brooklyn - John T. Drake Post #321
Grinnell - Gordon Granger Post #64
Newton - Garrett Post #16
Colfax - E. D. Duncan Post #253
Altoona - Dorr Post #62
Des Moines - Kinsman Post #7, Crocker Post #12 & Hooker Post #21
Waukee - Thornton Post #303
Adel - Col. Mills Post #45
Redfield - Marshall Post #43
Dexter - Wadsworth Post #36
Stuart - Maxwell Post #14
Menlo - McMillen Post #430
Casey - John Stanfield Post #359
Adair - Washington Post #135
Anita - Meade Post #50
Wiota - James Cantwell Post #99
Atlantic - Samuel Rice Post #6
Oakland - William Layton Post #358
Council Bluffs - Abe Lincoln Post #29 & H. Osborne Post #407
There are now new Grand Army of the Republic Highway marker signs up in most of these towns. Hopefully, all can be marked within the next year.
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has proclaimed September 28th, 2016, as "Grand Army of the Republic Highway Day" in Iowa, to honor the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Grand Army of the Republic. It was on that day in 1947 that Governor Blue signed the original proclamation.
WHEREAS, the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) was founded in 1866 by and for Union veterans of the Civil War for the purposes of preserving and strengthening the bonds of brotherhood among the veterans and assisting their former comrades in need and the widows and children of those who had fallen; and
WHEREAS, membership of the Department of Iowa Grand Army of the Republic grew to more than 20,000 Union Civil War veterans and 439 G.A.R. posts had been organized across the state at its peak in the 1890s. Six of Iowa’s Governors had been members of the G.A.R. and three Iowans served as the national Commander-in Chief of the G.A.R.; and
WHEREAS, beginning in the 1930s, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War organized an effort to have U.S. Highway 6 across the United States names in honor of the Grand Army of the Republic and Iowa adopted legislation to do so with the passage of House File 227 signed by Governor Robert Blue on April 29, 1947; and
WHEREAS, on September 28, 1947, Iowa formally dedicated the Grand Army of the Republic Highway at a ceremony in Iowa City where Iowa’s two remaining Civil War veterans, James Martin and Ebenezer McMurray, along with Governor Blue unveiled the marker which was to be placed along the highway at each end of each town having had a G.A.R. post in the past; and
WHEREAS, during the dedication ceremony, Governor Blue stated, “We dedicate this highway today as a symbol of unity between these 48 states from coast to coast, to the vision of the boys of the Civil War, and to the future, for these men have left to us a heritage of freedom.” (Des Moines Register, 29 September 1947, p. 1); and
WHEREAS, over the past couple years, the Department of Iowa Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War has been working with the Iowa Department of Transportation and the many towns along the historic 1947 route of the Grand Army of the Republic Highway to replace missing or worn and faded marker signs with new more visible signage to honor the G.A.R. and call attention to the Grand Army of the Republic Highway designation:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Terry E. Branstad, Governor of the State of Iowa, do hereby proclaim September 28, 2016 as
GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC HIGHWAY DAY
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I HAVE HEREUNTO SUBSCRIBED MY NAME AND CAUSED THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF IOWA TO BE AFFIXED. DONE AT DES MOINES THIS 9TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD TWO THOUSAND SIXTEEN.
TERRY E. BRANSTAD
GOVERNOR OF IOWA
Major William L. Anderson, Jr., of the U.S. Army conceived the idea of designating U.S. 6 the
Grand Army of the Republic Highway to honor the Union forces during the Civil War. Based on his recommendation, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War began promoting the idea in April 1934. Because the highway was owned by the States, the organization asked each State to act on the proposal. The first to do so was Massachusetts when Governor Charles F. Hurley signed a bill on February 12, 1937, naming the route. Over the years, the States gradually adopted the name. For example, California did so in 1943 and Indiana in 1946, while Governor James Duff of Pennsylvania named the State's segment of U.S. 6 in 1948.
A formal dedication of the Grand Army of the Republic Highway took place on May 3, 1953, in Long Beach. The occasion was a gathering of the five related service organizations, including the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. The five organizations held their own meetings, but came together for the dedication on that Sunday afternoon to place a monument in front of the Municipal Auditorium: Extending a distance of three thousand six hundred fifty-two miles through fourteen states the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War worked to name the highway in memory of the heroic services and unselfish devotion of the Union soldiers, sailors and marines who laid down their lives on the altar of sacrifice during the Civil War.
The Department of Iowa Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is currently undertaking a project to re-mark the Grand Army of the Republic Highway across Iowa.
The initial goal is to be sure that each town along historic U.S. Highway 6 that had a GAR Post in the past has signs placed in accordance with correspondence between the GAR and the State Highway Commission from 1947-1948.
For more information, please contact Dan Rittel, the GAR Highway Officer for the Department of Iowa SUVCW by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beginning in 2007, the Department of Iowa Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War began memorializing Iowa's Civil War Generals by naming bridges along the Grand Army of the Republic Highway through Iowa in their honor. Eleven bridges have been named in honor of twelve Generals.