Memorial Day Parades Have Been Held in North Baltimore For Over 100 Years

Memorial Day Parade 1905

In this circa 1905 photograph, members of North Baltimore’s Sill Post #57 of the Grand Army of the Republic have assembled at the corner of North Main and Broadway for the annual Memorial Day parade. North Baltimore Volunteer Fire Department members are standing in formation to the left of the American flag prior to marching to Maplewood Cemetery for the commemoration of the Union soldiers killed in the Civil War.

The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a national organization of Union Civil War military veterans, proclaimed the Memorial Day holiday in 1868 to commemorate those Union soldiers and sailors who died during the Civil War. North Baltimore’s tradition of Memorial Day parades began in the early 1880s. Local Union Army veterans founded GAR Sill Post #57 in 1881, and they soon began to organize the town’s Memorial Day parade.

A May 22, 1891 North Baltimore Beacon newspaper article lists the order of march for the parade on Saturday, May 30, 1891 as the Drum Corps, Sons of Union Veterans, Little Girls and Boys Band, Ladies Relief Corps, Sill Post of Ex-Soldiers, and citizens on foot and in carriages. The GAR Ladies Relief Corps members decorated the Union veteran graves in Maplewood Cemetery with flags prior to the ceremony.

Only after World War I did Memorial Day became a holiday to commemorate American military dead from all the nation’s wars. By the early 1920s, the few remaining elderly GAR members were no longer able to organize the holiday’s commemoration. Younger World War I veterans in local American Legion Post 539 then assumed the task of organizing the town’s Memorial Day ceremonies, a tradition which continues today.

Images of the 1947 North Baltimore Memorial Day Parade

1947 Memorial Day parade

1947 Memorial Day parade

1947 Memorial Day parade

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