Found, at an early 1800s site, a Grand Army of the Republic Button. It’s in poor condition and thus shows how mportant it is to get these artifacts out of the ground. At least this was rescued before it dissolved completely.
“The Grand Army of the Republic was founded in 1866 by Benjamin F. Stephe nson in Decatur, Illinois. Membership was open to Union Civil War veterans of the various armed services who served between 1861 and 1865. Its mission was to support the huge veteran population by helping to provide pensions, medical care for the disabled, and support to orphans and widows. In 1868, it declared May 30th as a day to honor those who had fallen in battle, which today is recognized as Memorial Day. Members also founded the Old Soldiers Home, which eventually became the United States Department of Veteran Affairs. In the center is the figure of the goddess Minerva, who represents Loyalty. A soldier and a sailor flank her, clasping hands. These are symbolic of Fraternity. Below the veterans are two children, representing Charity “receiving the benediction and protection of these Comrades” , in the words of the official circular describing the new badge, promulgated in early 1870.”