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May 25, 2015

Remembering the fallen

Parades, memorial services held across the country to honor veterans who died in action

Hundreds of Memorial Day parades and graveside services are taking place across the country, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the armed forces.

The tradition dates back to 1868, when future President James A. Garfield, then a Republican Congressman, addressed several thousand people gathered at Arlington National Cemetery. The speech was rather lengthy, according to, which included Garfield's remarks among a column marking seven little-known facts about Memorial Day.

"If silence is ever golden," Garfield said, "It must be beside the graves of 15,000 men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem the music of which can never be sung."

President Barack Obama celebrated Memorial Day by placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Ceremony, where he honored the sacrifices made by American soldiers from World War II through the war in Afghanistan. Obama called the sacrifices "a debt we will never repay," according to the Washington Post, while also noting this is "the first time in 14 years the U.S. is not engaged in a major ground war."

In the Philadelphia region, veterans paraded through the streets of Media, honoring their fallen comrades.

"I think it's great to be out here, to see everybody support the troops that are still fighting," U.S. Army veteran George Brosnan told KYW Newsradio.

On Friday, Camden officials and Urban Promise Academy students rededicated a forgotten city cemetery where 123 African-American Civil War veterans and other early African American settlers are buried.

The long-neglected cemetery, renamed Johnson Cemetery Memorial Park, resuscitated after high school students began cleaning it up three years ago, according to the Camden Courier-Post. They took action after learning about Civil War history and watching a video about the graves produced by lawyer Kevin Walker.