As bagpipes were played and somber songs were sung on the grounds of the Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville, Md., many gathered Monday to pay their respects to 700 men and women who donated their bodies to science.
For more than 38 years, the Maryland Department of Health, in cooperation with the State Anatomy Board, has cremated the bodies and held a memorial and burial service for the anatomical donors whose bodies were used in medical education and research study.
Medical students were among the group of people who attended the memorial service to express their appreciation for the gift of education.
"They come into a lab, and this is going to be their first patient," said Ronald S. Wade, director of the Maryland State Anatomy Board, of the students. "But not only that, that's their teacher."
"You think about how much you learn from the body," said Emily Peterson, second-year medical student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. "We had a female cadaver, and I didn't know her, but I really appreciate what she gave me. I just really respect that she made this sacrifice for people she didn't even know."
Family members were also in attendance and discussed how they were able to grasp their loved ones' decision.
"When we realized how sincere he was about it, we accepted it as a family and we're really glad he did," said Joseph Karsner, whose father, Joseph Karsner IV, was memorialized. "It's what he wanted to do. And I don't think there is a greater gift if you ask me."
At the memorial, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley recognized June 18 as Anatomical Donor Appreciation Day for Maryland.