By Molly Daly
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia’s first Memorial Day observance was held in 1868 at Laurel Hill Cemetery in the city’s East Falls section.
On Sunday, the Decoration Day tradition continued, as members of the public joined veterans and Civil War re-enactors to pay tribute to those who gave all, and those who stood behind them.
Under a crystal blue sky, men in Union uniforms and women in hoop skirts paraded through the lushly planted cemetery, stopping at the grave of the hero of Gettysburg — General George Meade. As a wreath laid at Meade’s tree-shaded resting place overlooking the Schuylkill River, historian Kriste Lindenmeyer said it’s a fitting place to mark Memorial Day:
“Well, it means a lot to be in Philadelphia, for one thing, because Philadelphia paid a big role in fighting for freedom for African Americans. It’s certainly the founding place of freedom in our country with Independence Hall.”
Lindenmeyer says it’s impressive that the ceremony also includes women and other supporters on the home front:
“Supporting the government and being involved, and voting for the things that they care about. That’s the part I also think is very important to remember. It’s not just the veterans, it takes all of us to keep this going forward.”
Cynthia Best came from Lower Gwynnedd:
“I love this ceremony and I love this cemetery — it’s a wonderful place on this holiday.”
(Reporter) What is it that makes it so meaningful to you?
“The history, the people, and the re-enactors. Everybody’s so committed. It’s a great place.”
Best adds her father was in World War II and survived.