Some attendees donned period garb, wearing hoop skirts and outfits reminiscent of Confederate soldiers. Others said they just wanted to remember the soldiers who died in the bloodiest battle to take place on American soil.
Maryanne McCurdy, president of the Kennesaw Chapter 241 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which hosted the event, said it’s important to take the time to reflect on history.
“We are honoring our ancestors,” McCurdy said. “It’s not about fighting the war again. We are honoring people who laid down their life for what they believed in.”
Richard Boarts agrees. He traveled from Haralson County, near the Alabama border, with his fellow members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to participate in the ceremony.
He played taps at the cemetery after muskets and a cannon were fired.
Setting aside a day to remember lives lost in the Civil War is just as important, Boarts said, as reflecting on the casualties of other battles.
“Why do we honor Georgia Washington? Why do we honor World War II soldiers? The same reason. Identical,” Boarts said.
Marietta is deep in Civil War history, said Brad Quinlan, a local historian, who spoke at the Sunday ceremony.
“Here in Marietta 150 years ago, it was the second largest hospital site,” Quinlan said.
All 15,000 hospital beds throughout Marietta were full, Quinlan said, and sights of dying soldiers with wounds wrapped in bed sheets were all too common.
He quoted letters written by Marietta residents who described images of soldiers lying on blood soaked stretchers outside the Kennesaw House and in open fields across the city.
About 3,000 soldiers are buried in the Marietta Confederate Cemetery, which is the largest Confederate cemetery south of Richmond, Va.
Confederate Memorial Day has been a legal holiday in Georgia since 1874, and the members of the Ladies Memorial Association, United Daughters of the Confederacy and Sons of Confederate Veterans have kept the tradition alive.
In 2009, Georgia permanently designated April as Confederate History and Heritage Month.