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New historical exhibit looks at how the Civil War was remembered across generations

"Mustering Memory" at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museum examines how the Civil War was remembered from the Reconstruction era to today.

FREMONT, Ohio — It was a war that tore our country in two.

Though the Civil War ended nearly 160 years ago, its legacy lives on.

A new local exhibit looks back on how Americans have remembered the War for the Union.

The Hayes Presidential Library and Museum takes us back to the fallout of the end of the American Civil War.

"Mustering Memory" takes visitors from the Reconstruction era to the formation of the Grand Army of the Republic, to the final living veteran passing away in 1956 and beyond.

The focus of the exhibit is not the effects of the Civil War itself, but how communities remembered and honored those who fought.

"How the war has been remembered over the years, and kind of think about how should we be remembering the war, how do I remember the war. And, how do I feel about more recent historical events that have happened," Kristina Smith, Communications and Marketing Manager at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museum, said.

President Hayes achieved the rank of General in the Union Army during the war and was a longstanding member of the GAR following his presidential term.

But along with his personal effects on display are also his wife Lucy's.

As much of these exhibits also show how many who were involved in the war were not properly honored for decades. 

Credit: Jon Monk
The exhibit follows local branches of the Grand Army of the Republic after the Civil War ended.

"There were veterans organizations that excluded African American soldiers. Women had to start their own groups because of course they couldn't be a part of the men's group. So, I think it's interesting to look back on how that changed over time as well, and how the remembrances, and who got to be involved in those things and evolved over time," Smith said.

"Mustering Memory" is expected to be on display here at the Hayes Presidential Library and Museum for a full year, up until at least April of 2023.

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