G.A.R badge, Bethel, ca. 1885
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In 1883 Bethel established a G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) group, naming it Brown Post No. 84, in memory of Harlan Page Brown. Brown served in the 7th Maine Volunteer Regiment, and, according to William B. Lapham's 1891 History of Bethel, "was instantly killed while charging at the head of his company at the battle of Antietam."
A fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army, Union Navy, Marines and the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service who served in the Civil War, the G.A.R. became among the first organized advocacy groups in American politics, supporting voting rights for black veterans, promoting patriotic education, helping to make Memorial Day a national holiday, and lobbying Congress to establish regular veterans' pensions.
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