A Day To Remember

The Last Remembrance

We are able to live our daily lives…while so many have given theirs. Here in Philadelphia in 1868, the first Memorial Day celebration took place at Laurel Hill Cemetary.

At military funerals, the flag is drapped across the casket. The blue field is always placed at the head of the casket, over the left shoulder of the deceased. This tradition goes back to the time of the Napoleonic Wars when the dead were covered with a flag as they were taken from the battlefield. During the committal service, a soldier bends on one knee with the folded flag and begins, “On behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation, I wish to present you with this flag in appreciation for your (father’s, mother’s, daughter’s, son’s) service. May God bless you and your family during these difficult times.” Most then accept the flag, this symbol of one who lived a life of great courage and valor, and will then hold it so close to their heart. The only embrace one is able to give.

On this day, we offer our sincere and heartfelt thanks to all the families who have embraced the flag and all those who have given us their greatest gift…their lives in the pursuit of freedom for all.

Copyright 2012 Frances Schwabenland. Images may not be copied, printed or otherwise disseminated without express written permission of Frances Schwabenland.

Endings and Remembrances: New Year’s Eve

After photographing during a tour of Laurel Hill Cemetery several weeks ago, I was asked to come back for the New Year’s Eve celebration in honor of General George Meade. December 31st was the day of beginnings for him – his birthday and his wedding day. Over 300 people attended this grand celebration to honor Philadelphia’s Civil War hero. Many attendees came in period dress and served as “living historians”. Major Charles Meade, a direct descendant, was instrumental in providing the headstone for the previously unmarked grave of General Meade’s mother, Margaret Coats Butler Meade. This dedication was then followed by a ceremony at the gravesite of General Meade. Speeches were made by members of the General Meade Society, the Union League of Philadelphia, and the Allied Order of the Grand Army of the Republic. The Philadelphia Brigade Band performed and the music echoed throughout this National Historic Landmark. A champagne toast and a luncheon was the wonderful finishing touch to this event!

Laurel Hill Cemetery: Gen. George Meade Ceremony from Frances Schwabenland on Vimeo.