Towering above the unexpectedly humble gravesite of General George G. Meade, victor of Gettysburg, is a giant of a tree. Believed to have been planted in 1852 for the Honorable John Sergeant - Meade's father-in-law, a Congressman, and founding member of the Whig Party - it was still a modest tree in 1872 when the General was interred in the Sergeant lot. In the ensuing 164 years, the Norway Maple sheltered countless visitors, war heroes, and dignitaries, including Presidents Grant, Hayes, and Harrison. Though the tree has survived decades longer than expected, it has reached the end of its natural lifespan. The affectionately named "Meade Witness Tree" will be professionally removed by the Cemetery's arborists John B. Ward & Co on Saturday, May 28. Following the removal will be a public ceremony and reception hosted by The General Meade Society of Philadelphia to mark the occasion.
The traditional Decoration Day service of the Grand Army Meade Post #1 will be recreated at Laurel Hill, the site of the first Memorial Day Observance in Philadelphia in 1868. The entourage will gather at the resting place of General Meade, hero of the Battle of Gettysburg, to perform the traditional service honoring all veterans who fell defending the nation. A wreath-laying, speeches and honor guards will enhance the ceremony.