Memorial Day – Celebrating Veterans, Past and Present

Looking for a way to honor our nation’s veterans on Memorial Day and also observe the
Sesquicentennial of the Civil War this month? You can do both with a simple, and short, day trip to Marietta National Cemetery.


Located in the heart of town on several small hills, this place of rest for America’s veterans is a his-toric site in itself. The land was donated by Marietta businessman and Union sympathizer, Henry Greene Cole, in the 1860s. Shortly after the end of the fighting, more than 10,000 Union dead were transferred here. Cole became the superintendent, and his family plot is located on the grounds as well. Although burials ceased in 1970, the cemetery holds 17,300 remains, including John Clark, a Revolutionary War general and Dennis Buckley, a Medal of Honor recipient for his heroism at the Battle of Peachtree Creek.


There are also a variety of historic structures and monuments. The stone wall around the perimeter dates to the 1870s, and the imposing gateway on Washington Street sits near the old superintendent’s cottage. Topping the largest hill is a striking classical pavilion in white marble with the grave markers of veterans and some spouses radiating outward in elegant and immaculately maintained curves.


Cole had originally hoped that the land he donated would contain the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers. He considered this a first step in national reconciliation. Instead, there is a Con-federate cemetery just across town with some beautiful monuments of its own. It is easy to visit both on Memorial Day.


For the past 65 years, the National Cemetery has been the site for Memorial Day ceremonies. They usually include patriotic music, a gun salute, posting of colors, speakers, and prayers for America’s soldiers, living and deceased. The ceremonies are held on Monday of the holiday weekend.


The Marietta National Cemetery is located at 500 Washington Street. It is open daily except for na-tional holidays (except Memorial and Veterans days), so visiting is easy. You can call 866-236-8159 for more information on this year’s activities.


– Dick Funderburke

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