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Metro youths continue patriotic tradition on Memorial Day weekend

The significance of the 18,742 marble headstones in Marietta National Cemetery was not lost on Evan Sheridan, as the 10-year-old Boy Scout on Saturday tried his best to make sure the American flags he planted stood up straight and were 6 inches from the center of each stone.

“I’m here to honor the soldiers who served our country and died for our country,” Evan said. “It makes me feel good to honor them.”

Boy Scouts have been placing flags at the Marietta National Cemetery in advance of Memorial Day commemorations for the past 22 years. About 1,400 boys and girls from all over metro Atlanta did the work on Saturday.

Things to do for Memorial Day in Atlanta Even though rain is in the Memorial Day weekend's forecast, keep these top picks for Memorial Day events in Atlanta on your agenda. Red, White, Bluegrass, & Bach, Friday Memorial Day Weekend at Stone Mountain, Friday-Monday Ceremony at Marietta National Cemetery, Monday Georgia Renaissance Festival, Saturday-Monday

David Moore, with the National Memorial Day Association of Georgia, said cemeteries became the nation’s first public parks after the Civil War. More than 10,312 Civil War troops are interred in the Marietta cemetery.

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Moore said involvement of the Scouts on Memorial Day weekend is a great tradition.

“It’s one of the ways to get young people to understand the meaning of the weekend,” Moore said. “You don’t know where you’re going until you understand where you came from. These places offer us an opportunity to reflect. When you’re here, you have a sense of what happened before. It’s important, particularly for young people, to understand their place in the story.

“It’s a great service project.”

A woman plays patriotic songs at Marietta National Cemetery on Saturday, May 26, 2018. BRANDEN CAMP / CONTRIBUTED (Branden Camp)

Bob Cato, Boy Scout flag chairman, said the flag-planting exercise is meant to teach respect and reverence. It’s also a big job that has to be done well, and that message is also brought home during the day, he said.

“This place is more than a cemetery,” Cato said. “It’s a hallowed ground. We try to teach what it is and what it’s all about.”

And the lesson is for more than just the boys. Girl Scouts, Brownies and Daisies also helped with the flags.

“I wanted to come to look at the soldiers and appreciate what they’ve done for us,” said 9-year-old Bridgette Butler of East Cobb. “They have fought wars and battles to save our country.”

» Five metro Atlanta remembrance programs, including Monday at Marietta National Cemetery 

» Other holiday weekend events

» Check out these must-see military attractions in Georgia

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