Tuesday, August 19, 2014


An acquaintance wanted a medallion for the grave of her great-grandfather, who was a Civil War veteran. I told her that my brother had gotten one for the grave of our Great-Grandfather Levi Shirkey who was a Civil War veteran. She got in contact with the local VSO and learned that the Veteran's Administration no longer provides medallions except to surviving spouses of veterans. Of course there are no surviving spouses of Civil War veterans! She then got in contact with her Senator to no avail.

The medallions are the flag holders that one sees beside the graves of veterans on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Feeling that it is very unfair to have a Civil War veteran's grave not have a flag placed to honor him, I decided to make it my mission to acquire a medallion. I made at least a dozen telephone calls.

I was able to acquire a medallion quickly because of my association with the LGAR (Ladies Of The Grand Army Of The Republic). You will notice "GAR" on the medallion.

The GAR (the Grand Army Of The Republic) was founded 1n 1866 and by 1890 had more than 500,000 members. Only honorably discharged veterans of the Civil War could be members. The group was instrumental in founding soldiers' homes, securing pension legislation, relief work, and making sure that Civil War veterans were recognized and honored. The final Encampment (as conventions were known) was held in 1949. The last GAR member died in 1956 at the age of 109 years. Descendants of Civil War veterans can join the SUVCW (Sons Of The Veterans Of The Civil War) and the LGAR (Ladies of the Grand Army Of The Republic).

The medallion had been in storage. Although I personally liked the patina, I wanted it polished to be placed at the gravesite. I looked on the internet about polishing bronze and the first hint was to purchase bronze cleaner. We already had Brasso and the directions on the can show it is also useable for bronze. There are numerous ideas of making home-made pastes which include using lemon juice, baking powder, salt, flour, and vinegar. Here is a YouTube video showing a cleaning method using some of those items.

My brother Les, the masterly polisher, cleaned and polished the medallion. Les said, "Look how it changes when it's turned in the light." I said, "Yes, that's because of the bas-relief." He said, "The BAH-WHAT?" I knew that he knew the term, but he likes to razz me. I said, "You did a lovely job of burnishing." Les asked, "Burnishing--how often do we get to throw the words burnishing-and bas-relief-- into a conversation?"


Anonymous said...

You are the kindest, most generous person I know. I know you don't want to be "nice" or "sweet", but you are both of those as well as GOOD! ML

Sharon Thomas said...

Love this! Your friend should be grateful of your tenacity. You are a very well connected woman with resources, who knows how to use them. It doesn't surprise me that you were able to accomplish this task. Kuddos to you, and your friend should be eternally grateful, if they are truly a good friend.