More than 100 people gathered at Laurel Hill Cemetery the day before Memorial Day to honor the lives of veterans past and present.
Benjamin Berry served in World War II with the 863rd Quartermaster Fumigation and Bath Company, aiding soldiers coming in from the front lines. He attained the rank of Corporal during his service.
The 99-year-old reflected on his time in the military, saying the memories of his fallen comrades weighed heavy on his mind during the holiday.
“Those men — and women also — when they join, had the idea they would be home after the war,” Berry said. “And in a lot of cases, [it’s] not true.”
“I was so glad to be of service to not only my country but now that I’m here, back home, raised a family, retired, enjoying life to its fullest,” Berry said. “I’m not only pleased but happy.”
Wreaths were laid at the graves of previously unmarked veterans Sunday, as well as the grave of Major General George Meade.
Andy Waskie is an officer of the American Legion Post 405, as well as the president of the General Meade Society. He called Meade the “greatest war hero in the history of Philadelphia.”
“He saved the Union at Gettysburg from dissolution, and he’s buried here,” Waskie said. “We honor him and his soldiers, and all those who serve and sacrificed.”
The first Memorial Day celebration in Philadelphia took place at Laurel Hill Cemetery in 1868.