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Carroll County Celebrates its 145th Memorial Day Parade (Updated)

Arguably one of the longest running Memorial Day observances in the country, the 145th Memorial Day Parade in Westminster on Monday will honor fallen heroes and tradition.

There were so many marching bands, military vehicles, floats, antique cars and fraternal organizations signed up for this year's Memorial Day parade on Main Street in Westminster that event organizers decided to extend the parade time by half an hour.

Memorial Day, initially called Decoration Day, was instituted as a national day of remembrance for those who gave their lives during the Civil War. It was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan and was first observed on 30 May 1868, by placing flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

After World War I, the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting the Civil War to honoring all Americans who died fighting in any war.

Carroll County's tradition began in the spring of 1868 with a parade led by Miss Mary Shellman, then 16 years old. According to a parade brochure, Miss Shellman organized children from Westminster Elementary School and St. John's Elementary School to cut flowers from their gardens, meet at Main and Center Streets, and process to the Westminster Cemetery to place flowers on the graves of the Union soldiers.

The observance continued under her direction until the American Legion Carroll Post #31, Westminster, took responsibility for organizing and conducting the parade.

This year's parade will take place on Monday, May 28 from 9:30 a.m. until noon. The parade will process from Pennsylvania Avenue down Main Street to the Westminster Cemetery.

Following the parade, a Memorial Day observance service will take place at Westminster Cemetery from noon to 1 p.m. and will feature the event's Grand Marshal and guest speaker, Commander Matthew W. Shipley, USN.

Following the services at the cemetary, the VFW #467, 519 Poole Road, will host a Memorial Day service featuring guest speaker Retired Army Chaplain Colonel Joel W. Cocklin, a 1965 graduate.

These Memorial Day events and services are free and open to the public. To learn more, visit http://carroll.subtlemark.com.

Corrections were made to the location of the cemetery.

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