The origins of Memorial Day date back to the aftermath of the Civil War, when families began to mark "Decoration Day" by visiting the graves of their loved ones lost during the conflict. After World War I, the focus was widened to include all fallen U.S. Veterans, and it became an official federal holiday in 1968. To quote the SUVCW's General Order No. 11:
"If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us. Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude - the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan."The wreath was placed at the grave of John A. Neel, who enlisted as a Private in the 8th Maryland Infantry Regiment of the Union Army on August 14, 1862, and was mustered out as a Commissary Sergeant on May 31, 1865.
The keynote address was given by historian Mr. Robert Mullauer, speaking on the role of the common soldier, and how the specter of death on the field affected them. His complete speech can be viewed here:
The ceremony was included in WBAL's coverage of Memorial Day ceremonies in Maryland: