Event Overview and Purpose
Each year Scouting organizations in our community place flags on the 18,000+ graves of U.S. military veterans in the Marietta National Cemetery. This service project is carried out on the Saturday before Memorial Day. Its purpose is to help prepare the cemetery for the Memorial Day ceremony that takes place on Monday. In addition to community service, it is an opportunity for both youth and adults to learn about and appreciate the service and sacrifices of those who have given their lives in service of our country, as well as the rich history of the Marietta area.
The event originated in the Cobb District of the Atlanta Area Council (AAC) of the Boy Scouts of America, in cooperation with the National Memorial Day Association of Georgia. It is currently hosted by the AAC Foothills District. Since the early 1990's it has grown to include members of both Boy Scouting and Girl Scouting organizations, and all are welcome regardless of where their Scouting organization is located.
Directions, Parking and Arrival Time
Marietta National Cemetery is located at 500 Washington Avenue Northeast, Marietta, GA 30060. The cemetery borders on Roswell Street (120) just a few blocks east of the Marietta Square. Parking is available at the Charles D. Switzer Public Library (formerly known as the Central Library), 266 Roswell Street, directly across from the cemetery. If you are using a GPS, the library address is probably your best bet for directions, or find it on Google Maps. Please use caution when crossing the street.
Please plan on arriving between 8:00 and 8:30 am, so we can begin the program promptly.
What Happens on the Day of The Event
Scouts and Leaders, in uniform, gather at the cemetery between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. Each Scout receives a commemorative patch upon arrival. There is a short opening ceremony, which includes Presentation of the Colors, a rifle salute and the playing of Taps. Members of the Sons of the American Revolution, in uniform and with working muskets, are featured in the program.
Instructions for properly placing the flags are given, and Scouts are dismissed to spread throughout the cemetery and place the flags. The flags are located at stations throughout the cemetery and are distributed to each Scout in small quantities so that everyone gets a chance to place some flags.
When there are no more flags to be placed, everyone is free to leave, there is no closing ceremony.
Each Scout will be given a patch as they enter the cemetery. There will be no need for adult leaders to sign in or pick up patches for their group. On arrival, only Scouts will be given patches. Adults who would like a patch may pick one up on the way out of the cemetery. We want to make sure that all Scouts receive a patch before we hand them out to adults.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get to the cemetery? Marietta National Cemetery is located at 500 Washington Avenue Northeast, Marietta, GA 30060. The cemetery borders on Roswell Street (120) and is a few blocks east of the Marietta Square. Parking is available at the Charles D. Switzer Public Library (formerly known as the Central Library), 266 Roswell Street, directly across from the cemetery. If you are using a GPS, the library address is probably your best bet for directions, or you can follow this link to Google Maps. Please use caution when crossing the street.
What should I bring? Come dressed in the proper uniform for your Scouting organization. Every person should bring a full water bottle, there is no public source of drinking water in the cemetery. Some groups bring large hand-held signs showing their unit number, so their members can locate them in the crowd. There will be a staffed first aid station.
Do I need to bring my own flags? No, please do not bring flags. Only those flags that are provided by the National Memorial Day Association of Georgia are to be used. Any flags left over should be returned to the distribution station. Please do not allow anyone in your group take flags home with them.
Will I need to pre-register? No, there is no registration or check-in required. Just be there on time, and you'll be able to participate.
How long does the ceremony last? The amount of time the flag placement takes depends upon the number of people who participate. Recently our attendance has been in excess of 2000 people. It is amazing how quickly a group of this size is able to cover all of the 18,000+ graves. We are usually finished by around 10:00 am, but if you have an obligation that requires you to leave earlier you are free to do so. Families with Scouting-aged children have lots going on, especially at this time of year, so the fact that the project can be done quickly makes it easy to fit into busy schedules.
Will I need to pay to participate? There is no fee for Scouts or leaders to participate in this program. The cost of flags and patches is covered by the National Memorial Day Association of Georgia.
Can adults who come also place flags? If there are adults who have family members interred at the Marietta National Cemetery, we can arrange for them to place the flags on those graves. Otherwise, we ask that all flags be placed by youth members, simply because there are so many youth participating that we want to give all of them a chance to place flags.
How will my Scouts know what to do? During the opening program, instructions and a demonstration will be given so that Scouts will know the proper procedure and etiquette for placing the flags.
What is the proper uniform for this event? Every Scout and adult leader should be dressed in the proper dress uniform for their organization. For Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts this is the Field Uniform (sometimes informally called "Class A"), and for Girl Scouts the Girl Scout Vest should be worn.
What if it rains? If there is inclement weather the event will be cancelled. If that were to happen, flags would be placed by cemetery staff and other volunteers prior to Monday's Memorial Day ceremony. Unfortunately, there is no time we can reschedule, due to other activities taking place in the cemetery throughout the weekend.
We encourage adult leaders to include information about Memorial Day, the significance of this service project, and the history of the Marietta area in your Scouting program. Here are some resources to get you started; an online search should reveal lots more information of interest to you and your Scouts:
Marietta National Cemetery Be sure to check out the "Historical Information" and "Notable Persons" sections. There is a lot there that would be interesting at any time, but if you review this information prior to the event it may help make your Scouts' visit to the cemetery more meaningful.
Marietta National Cemetery on Wikipedia A brief article, but several links that show some of the many historical connections to this cemetery.
Henry Greene Cole The man who donated the land for the cemetery in 1866.
National Park Service A detailed history of the cemetery.