Wednesday, August 20, 2014


After doing much genealogical research, I learned that my great-grandfather on my maternal grandfathers side was a survivor of Andersonville Prison during the Civil War. I have written a prior blog about him (CLICK HERE). I have been to his grave several times, but no acknowledgement of his service was present.

Then I learned that a great-great-uncle on my maternal grandmothers side was also a Civil War veteran. When I visited his gravesite, the same void of acknowledgement was missing.

As the oldest living relative of each of these veterans, I decided to make it my personal mission to get acknowledgement for their service. I started with my great-great-uncle since he was born and raised in Fayette County where I reside. I obtained a copy of his death certificate from my local health department, and printed out a copy of his service from the online Civil War military records.

When I went to my local Veterans Service Office to inquire about obtaining a flag-stake medallion, I was told that they could not help me, with no reason given. Therefore, I did some research on veterans services and learned that Congress changed the law effective July 1, 2009 so that the only veterans who could receive monuments or medallions had to be buried after 1990 and be requested by the next of kin. I have no idea why they would not just tell me that at the office.

Personally, I didn't think that was fair to genealogists and others who learn of veterans in their lineage. So I decided to write to Ohio State Senator Sherrod Brown and voice my concerns. After sending my letter, I learned that another Ohio Senator recently introduced H.R. 2018 Honor Those Who Served Act of 2014 which would revise the "next of kin" policy of the 2009 law and allow a person to go back 62 years to obtain medallions for deceased veterans.

When I learned of H.R.2018, I wrote a followup letter to Senator Brown. However, before his office received my second letter, I was contacted by Senator Brown's office via email and asked to call a contact person there. I called and was told that my concerns were being addressed and reminded of the law change of 2009 and the new bill just introduced. I asked if my second letter had been received and it had not; I was asked to send it via email to my contact person, which I did. I was then notified that my letters were being sent to the proper channel in Washington D.C. to be processed so I could obtain the necessary medallion. I do not need a G.A.R. medallion for my great-great-uncle, because I have no proof he was a member of a G.A.R. post. However, I do have proof that my great-grandfather was a member of a G.A.R. post in the county of his residence.

My second goal was to obtain the G.A.R. medallion for my great-grandfather's gravesite. I did not yet have a copy of his death certificate, but had the proof of G.A.R. membership. I also have his original G.A.R. medal from the Civil War.

While waiting for my request to be processed in Washington D.C. through the proper channels (everyone knows how slow they can sometimes be), a friend contacted me and said she would get me a medallion. Later she said she contacted a State Representative's office and was given no assistance. (At least my contact obtained a positive result and paperwork is being processed through proper channels.) I'm a very patient person and was willing to wait for the 'wheels to turn,' so to speak.

In the meantime, around the beginning of this month, I got very ill and have not been able to write any blogs, especially about my efforts in this matter. One evening while I was lying on the couch in great pain, my friend said she wanted to bring me some melon. When she arrived she also had a G.A.R. medallion she had obtained. I thanked her for it and the melon, however, due to my pain and suffering at the time, I was not able to be as demonstrative as she hoped. I was later chastised for that. I have since apologized for not being more vocal and 'huggy' at the time, due to my condition. I'm sure she had no idea of the great pain I was in at the time. It is really hard to be cheerful and upbeat when your body is being overtaken by agony due to the incompetence of others. Maybe someday she will understand empathy.

On Friday, I was able to get in touch with my doctor's office and I got something to get me through the weekend. Therefore, on Sunday, after church, I went to the Third Annual Cemetery Stroll at the Greenfield Cemetery Honoring our Civil War Veterans sponsored by the Greenfield Historical Society, of which I am a member.

I was not able to stay long, but I did get the brochure, walk to my great-grandfather's grave, and put the G.A.R. medallion on his grave. I had my own flag that fit the holder so I also installed the flag and gave him my gratitude for his service. It was all I could do to get back home and back to the couch.

Goal number two was accomplished prior to my goal number one, so now I will refocus on the contact name and number I have been given in Washington D.C. and get an update on the progress of my request. I have taken on this task because I feel it is the responsibility of the living to honor our deceased, and especially our veterans. Our heritage is important.

1 comment:

Sharon Thomas said...

I read about this on Sue's blog the day before yesterday.