Reenactors honor Civil War dead and all others lost in battle

It was first known as Decoration Day, a tradition dating from 1868 to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the Civil War. What is now known as Memorial Day became a national holiday in 1971, a time to pause and honor all who have died in war.

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At historic Laurel Hill Cemetery, the site of the first Decoration Day ceremony in Philadelphia 150 years ago, Civil War reenactors gathered Sunday under a gray sky fitting the solemnity of the occasion. Wearing uniforms of the Union Army, men fired rifles and doffed hats in tribute at the grave of Gen. George Gordon Meade, hero of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Sponsored by the General Meade Society of Philadelphia and the Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery, the memorial tribute — an annual tradition of the Grand Army Meade Post No. 1 — included a wreath-laying ceremony, speeches and honor guards, along with flag-waving children.

It was just one of several events throughout the region over the holiday weekend to pay homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

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