Westminster, Maryland has the distinct tradition of having conducted the observance of Memorial Day for 144 continuous years. This occasion, held to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the United States, was started in the spring of 1868, led by Miss Mary Shellman, then 16 years old, whose father was the mayor of Westminster.

Miss Shellman organized the children of the Westminster Elementary School and those of 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 those Union soldiers from the Civil War who were buried there. This was known as “Decoration Day,” later changed to Memorial Day. The observance continued under the direction of Miss Shellman when Carroll Post #31, Westminster, took over the reins of organizing and conducting the parade.

The parade, of course, over the years, has featured bands. The Westminster Municipal Parade joined in around the early 1900s. Other civic, fraternal and church groups have also always been a part of the observance.

With the coming of a very significant milestone in 2012, the 145th anniversary, Carroll Post #31 will mark this occasion y organizing and carrying out a three day event that will bring great honor and pay a fitting trite to all veterans who have served in all the wards fount in defense of the United States.

About the image: This detail from a c.1900 panoramic photograph shows Mary B. Shellman, other adults and local children waiting to march in Westminster’s Memorial Day parade.  The children traditionally laid their armloads of fresh flowers on the graves of Civil War soldiers in Westminster Cemetery. Collection of the Historical Society of Carroll County.