As a youth, Kaiss watched the annual parade many times, including when the holiday was called Decoration Day rather than Memorial Day.
Kaiss, 67, graduated from University of Maryland and, receiving a draft notice, decided to join the U.S. Navy because he "didn't want to live in a hole," he said.
Kaiss worked his way up the ranks, serving as commander of the USS Missouri twice, including when the ship served in the Gulf War, firing Tomahawk missiles and gunfire to support troops ashore in Kuwait.
He retired the same day - March 31, 1992, as the USS Missouri, the world's last active battleship.
In addition to being grand marshal, Kaiss will be the keynote speaker at the wreath-laying ceremony at Antietam National Cemetery following the parade.
NBC25 weatherman Lou Scally and Washington County Commissioners President John Barr will speak at the 11 a.m. wreath-laying ceremony at Sharpsburg Town Square, said organizer Patti Hammond.
About 70 units are expected to participate in the parade, including the McMillan Pipe Band - bagpipers, Rohrersville Band, Harmony Band and marching bands from Boonsboro High School, Boonsboro Middle School and Springfield Middle School, Hammond said.
Boonsboro and Waynesboro, Pa., also will have Memorial Day parades this holiday weekend.
Boonsboro's parade is at 2 p.m. Sunday following a memorial ceremony in front of Boonsboro Library, said Carol Long, first vice president of the women's auxiliary of Clopper-Michael American Legion Post 10. This will be the 22nd year the auxiliary has sponsored the ceremony and parade.
The parade will have about 60 units, including floats, majorette groups, Harmony Band, Rohrersville Band, Ali Ghan Shrine members driving little cars, the Hub City Model A Ford Club and bands from Boonsboro middle and high schools.
Orlyn Oestereich, a retired colonel who lives in Boonsboro, will speak during the ceremony, which starts at 1 p.m. Betty Snyder will sing patriotic songs, the Cascade American Legion will provide a 21-gun salute and Boonsboro High School band members will play echo taps.
The grand marshal for Waynesboro's parade is World War II veteran Albert Webb of Waynesboro, said Gary Doucha, commander of American Legion Post 15.
The parade will feature Civil War re-enactors, residents from the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Martinsburg, W.Va., local dignitaries, the Wayne Band, the Waynesboro Area Senior High School marching band and Ali Ghan Shrine members driving little cars, said Kathy Shaffer, secretary for the sponsoring Combined Veterans Council.
The speaker at the park ceremony will be Bob Harris, director of the Chambersburg, Pa., office for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Waynesboro Area Senior High School student Andrew Knepper will lead the pledge of allegiance and recite the Gettysburg Address.
A roll call of veterans, who lived in Waynesboro and have died in the last year, will be read as a bagpiper plays in the background, Shaffer said. After the roll call, the Pennsylvania Army National Guard will do a 21-gun salute.
If you go ...
WHAT: Sharpsburg Memorial Day parade and services
WHEN: Saturday, May 26. Wreath-laying ceremony at Town Square at 11 a.m. Parade starts at 1:30 p.m. Wreath-laying ceremony at Antietam National Cemetery following parade, at about 3 p.m.
WHERE: Starts at Sharpsburg Elementary School and marches east along Main Street through Sharpsburg to Antietam National Cemetery
WHAT: Boonsboro Memorial Day parade and ceremony
WHEN: Sunday, May 27. Ceremony, 1 to 1:30 p.m.; parade, 2 p.m.
WHERE: Ceremony is in front of Boonsboro Library on North Main Street in Boonsboro.
Parade starts at Boonsboro High School, heads south on Main Street going through the square and ending at Reeders Alley.
WHAT: Waynesboro, Pa., Memorial Day parade and service
WHEN: Monday, May 28, Memorial Day. Parade starts at 9 a.m. Following the parade is a Memorial Day service.
WHERE: The parade in Waynesboro, Pa., starts at Main Street and CV Avenue, turns right on Broad Street and ends at Memorial Park. The ceremony following the parade is in the park.