Invited by State Senator Thomas McGee, the club visited the Grand Army of the Republic Museum in Lynn, learning about local Civil War history and seeing the beautiful room where more than 2000 Union soldiers from around New England gathered for decades to take care of their own financially and advocate for veteran policy.
The museum is definitely worth seeing, home to priceless civil war artifacts to include original uniforms, a flag that flew over the Confederate capital in Richmond and the original GAR meeting room home to more than 1200 tin pictures of union veterans. The Lynn Sons of Union Veterans narrated the museums history.
Armed with a "Melrose Remembers" wreath, the group visited the GAR monument, established by the Melrose GAR post, a sister group to the organization that established the Lynn museum. The GAR monument is located in the center of the Melrose "Soldier's Lot," the final resting place of dozens of Melrose Union soldiers.
The Francis Snow Hesseltine grave served as the second "remember" site. This memorial is a replica of the Medal of Honor, created to pay tribute to Hesseltine who earned the nation's highest award for heroism while commanding during a Civil War engagement in Texas. The Operation Gettysburg club helped pay for the restoration of this monument, removing old decay and moss and restoring the original beauty and dignity bestowed on the final resting place of Melrose's lone Medal of Honor soldier.
And the highlight of the day, a visit to the LTC Clark Baldwin grave, home to a monument dedicated to the First Massachusetts Regiment. This is highly decorated unit honored with its own stone at Gettysburg for battlefield heroism. This grave is a copy of a monument found on the National Battlefield and was cleaned and restored as part of the club's fundraising. To honor history both local and national, the club laid a wreath at this monument and will bring the same wreath to lay during a special ceremony at the national monument on Friday afternoon.
On Thursday, the middle school students will join the rest of Operation Gettysburg - 22 veterans who will join the group on a journey to Philadelphia, Gettysburg and West Point to prove Melrose will never forget its heroes.