Posted By Norman Gasbarro on November 18, 2010
The Gratz Area Veterans Monument, located in front of the Gratz Community Center, Center Street, was dedicated on Memorial Day, 2005. The ceremony was in memory of Mr. Harry Walter Davis, active citizen, decorated World War II veteran, and lifelong friend to the community. It honors veterans from Gratz of all time periods and all branches of service.
In the front lower left corner of the monument is a Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) star, the symbol for a veteran who served in the Civil War. Veterans organizations have placed this star symbol at the graves of all known Union veterans and with the accompanying flag holder and flag, helps identify and honor the veteran throughout the year, but especially on patriotic holidays.
The G.A.R. was a fraternal organization that was formed after the Civil War and was composed of veterans who saw service in the war. There were chapters in every state and in almost every town or city. The chapter that served Gratz and its area veterans was the Kissinger Post #376. Not much is known about the Kissinger Post except that it conducted annual patriotic parades on Memorial Day and many veterans, both in Gratz and Lykens Township were involved in its activities. The regalia of the G.A.R. included a special uniform and medal. Some memorabilia from the Kissinger Post #376 survives and is in private hands or local museums. After the last Civil War veterans died, the G.A.R. posts ceased to exist and patriotic activities were taken over by other veterans groups. In many places, the G.A.R. had sponsored the construction of a special monument to honor the Civil War veterans, but not so in Gratz. Whether because of a lack of funding or a lack of interest, no one seems to know.
So, in 2005, rather than build a separate monument for each war, or individually list the names of every area veteran who served in wartime, a decision was made to erect an all-wars monument that would would be dedicated to the memory of all area veterans who served in our country’s hour of need.
The Gratz Area Veterans Monument bears the following inscription: No one who dies in war so others might live in peace and freedom has died in vain. This memorial is dedicated to the honor and memory of veterans of all our nations wars who served their country in its hour of need. Dedicated this 20th day of May in the year of our Lord 2005. At the top of the monument are the symbols of the branches of the armed services. And, at the bottom front and bottom sides are the symbols of service in each of the nation’s wars.