By Molly Daly
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A special ceremony was part of the annual Memorial Day commemoration at Laurel Hill Cemetery in East Falls Sunday: the rededication of the “Silent Sentry,” a bronze statue that was stolen from Mount Moriah Cemetery in the ’70s, then languished in storage for decades after its recovery.
Hoop skirts swayed as women with parasols followed the parade of union soldiers and contemporary veterans, their first stop, the grave of General George Gordon Meade, who commanded the Union troops at Gettysburg.
Andy Waskie led the campaign to bring the Silent Sentry to Laurel Hill, a fitting home for the monument.
“The first Memorial Day in Philadelphia was held here at Laurel Hill, on May the 30th 1868,” he said.
Elva Clements, whose husband is a reenactor, is a repeat visitor to the historic cemetery’s Memorial Day event.
“There’s so many more people showing up today, which is fantastic,” she said as she explained what Memorial Day means to her. “I even got on the internet the other day just to make sure I understood. It is specifically about the people who died in action, and I think people need to realize that that’s exactly what it’s all about.”
Lucy McGuire is a lifelong Philadelphia making her first visit to the 78-acre cemetery, and she’s read up on those who rest here, from the humble to the famous.
“There are so many veterans here, from all the wars, and that’s important, people should remember that,” she said. “They’ve given up so much for us, and for our freedom. I know losing my nephew meant a lot, and he was only 20 years old, and he gave his whole life. Vietnam War, he was a Marine. He was very special.”
Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice.