May 2016

US Route 6: The Memorial Day Connection

What do US Route 6 and Memorial Day have in common?

Both were established as a means to honor the fallen Union Soldiers from the Civil War.

As the small signs lining the highway in some areas proudly boast; US Route 6 is also known as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway. This designation was coordinated by the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, which proceeded the Grand Army of the Republic, who originally dedicated May 30 as Memorial Day.

According to snopes.com, “the modern Memorial Day originated with an order issued in 1868 by Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, for the annual decoration of war graves: Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30.”

The Federal Highway website (www.fhwa,gov) said that Major William L. Anderson, Jr., of the U.S. Army conceived the idea of designating U.S. 6 the Grand Army of the Republic Highway to honor the Union forces during the Civil War. Based on his recommendation, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War began promoting the idea in April 1934. Because the highway was owned by the States, the organization asked each State to act on the proposal. The first to do so was Massachusetts when Governor Charles F. Hurley signed a bill on February 12, 1937, naming the route. Governor James Duff of Pennsylvania named the State's segment of U.S. 6 in 1948. By 1953, all 14 states gradually adopted the name.

Today, the section of US Route 6 in Pennsylvania is a favorite driving destination and Pennsylvania Heritage Corridor. One of its themes is called “Warrior’s Road”. All across PA Route 6, there are monuments and statues honoring veterans from all of the major American wars and conflicts. Visitors and residents can take a moment to reflect at many sites including the monuments at Veterans Memorial Park in Matamoras, the Veterans Memorial Park in Towanda, the veterans wall at the Coudersport Arboretum and the memorial statue next to the Liberty Street Bridge in downtown Warren.

In the spirit of Memorial Day, many of the PA Route 6 communities are placing banners along the Route in their downtowns. Named “Hometown Heroes”, these banners honor local residents who have served in the US Armed Forces. Currently the banners line the towns of Carbondale, Towanda, Wyalusing, Troy, and Mansfield. Youngsville and Warren are expected to install their banners within a year.

US Route in Pennsylvania has a lasting connection to the veterans of the Civil War and all other wars; the stories of real people who served are told in our statues, parks, and towns.

Read past Monthly Features:

April 2016 - Artisan Trail Month on PA Route 6

February 2016-Historic Inns and Hotels on Route 6

January 2016-6 Ways to Hibernate this Winter

November 2015-Ways to Relax and Restore Along Route 6

October 2015 - Sense Spectacular

September 2015 - Scenic Overlooks and Viaducts

August 2015 - Celebrating the Birth of Gifford Pinchot Across Route 6

June 2015 - Route 6 as a Transportation Corridor

May 2015 - PA Route 6 as a National Recreational Trail

April 2015 - The Real Artisans of PA Route 6

March 2015 - Maple Month

February 2015 - Washington and Lincoln Connections