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Booke Smith and her brother D.J. arrive at the grave of their grandfather, Vietnam War Veteran Walter Poore on Monday at the Marietta National Military Cemetery to pay their respects on Memorial Day and wish him a Happy Birthday today. Hundreds filled the hallowed grounds yesterday for the 74th annual Memorial Day Observance ceremonies. Staff-Kelly J. Huff

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, but the day means more than barbecues and sunscreen.

It is a solemn day to remember the over one million men and women who have died while serving in the United States military.

The day got its start following the Civil War, when localities across the country would dedicate a day to decorating the graves of Civil War troops with flowers. These tributes would usually take place near the end of May because that’s when flowers were in bloom.

In 1868, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the head of an organization of Union veterans, declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30.

Jan Grenci, a reference specialist with the Library of Congress, said people started using the name Memorial Day interchangeably with Decoration Day, and the former became the more popular term by the late 19th century. After World War I, the day became a time to pay tribute to the fallen from all American wars.

Several U.S. cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, but in 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, New York, the commemoration’s birthplace, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The day became an official holiday in 1971, and that’s the same time it was placed on the last Monday in May.

When Logan declared the first Decoration Day, he urged Americans to “gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.”

Americans across the nation will honor the nation’s war dead in much the way Logan prescribed over the weekend.

Here are some Memorial Day events in Cobb County.

Saturday, May 25

Acworth Memorial Day Ceremony

WHAT: The Acworth Memorial Day Ceremony will honor those who have given their lives in service to the country. Veterans and current servicemen will pay tribute to the brave men and women who have fought and died for the nation. Engraved pavers dedicated to those who have served in the Armed Forces that have been purchased since the previous Veterans Day will be presented at the event.

WHEN: May 25, 10 to 11 a.m.

WHERE: Veterans Memorial at Patriots Point in Cauble Park, 4425 Beach Street in Acworth

INFO: acworthtourism.org

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5th annual Veterans Memorial 5K, Military Appreciation Celebration

WHAT: The American Legion Post 29 will have its 5th Annual Veterans Memorial 5K and Military Appreciation Celebration. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the American Legion Post 29 in Marietta. The purpose of the event is raise awareness of veterans’ issues and needs in Marietta and Cobb County and raise money to assist the veterans charities supported by Post 29.

Those include the Georgia National Guard Foundation located at the Georgia National Guard Center in Marietta, the Shepherd’s Men SHARE Military Initiative at the Shepherd Spinal Clinic in Atlanta and the Service Office of the American Legion Post 29. All money raised will go to support these charities.

The Post 29 has donated $240,000 over the past four years to the charities. The Georgia Army National Guard, one of the sponsors and presenters, will have military vehicles and displays for viewing. They will also be simulcasting troops from the Georgia National Guard and Georgia Army National Guard that are deployed in Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and Ft. Hood, Texas running the Veterans Memorial 5K at the same time as the Marietta race. This will be a live feed and available for viewing on screens set up in the park. The event is open to runners, walkers of all ages, wheelchair and stroller accessible, and pet friendly.

WHEN: May 25, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

WHERE: The American Legion Post 29, 921 Gresham Ave NE in Marietta

COST: $35 through May 23 and $40 on race day. The event is an AJC Peachtree Road Race Official Qualifying Event.

INFO: www.post29marietta.org/5krace.

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Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park Memorial Day of Service

WHAT: Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park will commemorate Memorial Day by honoring those who have given their all in their service to our country. The park will host its first annual Memorial Day of Service. The free event will include a service project on-site, an interpretive talk and a memorial program at the top of Kennesaw Mountain.

WHEN: May 25, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

WHERE: Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, 900 Kennesaw Mountain Drive in Kennesaw

INFO: Pre-registration is required by May 23. For more information and to register, visit www.nps.gov/kemo/planyourvisit/calendar.htm or call 770-427-4686.

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Guided Cheatham Hill Hike

WHAT: Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park will have a Guided Cheatham Hill Hike. Participants can follow in the footsteps of the Union and Confederate soldiers who fought here in that summer of 1864 with this guided hike. A Ranger will take participants along the Assault Trail, detailing the events of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain and Cheatham Hill. The approximate length of this hike is approximately 1 mile and will be weather dependent. This program is not at the Visitor Center. Parking is at the Recreation Area No. 3 parking lot, 902 Cheatham Hill Road in Marietta.

WHEN: May 25, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

WHERE: Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, 900 Kennesaw Mountain Drive in Kennesaw

INFO: Call 770-427-4686, ext. 0 or visit nps.gov/kemo.

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KISS 104 Flashback Series

WHAT: The KISS 104.1’s 2019 Flashback Festival Series will be both Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

WHEN: May 25 will feature ZAPP, S.O.S. Band and Case; May 26 will feature Morris Day and The Time and Sheila E; Aug. 31 will feature The Whispers, Ruben Studdard and Evelyn Champagne King; and Sept. 1 will feature Cameo, Midnight Star and Glenn Jones.

WHERE: Mable House Barnes Amphitheatre, 5239 Floyd Road in Mableton

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The Marietta Pops Orchestra Spring Concert

WHAT: The Marietta Pops Orchestra is hosting its Spring Concert, featuring movie themes, exciting orchestrations, pop standards and sing-alongs.

WHEN: May 25, 7:30 to 9:15 p.m.

WHERE: Earl and Rachel Smith Strand Theatre, 117 N. Park Square, Marietta

COST: Tickets $20 adults and $10 students

INFO: marietttapopsorchestra.org or 770-874-8525

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Six Flags Over Georgia’s Live and Local Concert Series

WHAT: Six Flags Over Georgia will have its Live and Local Concert Series. Participants can experience the best of Atlanta’s live music scene on the Dare Devil Dive Stage in the USA section of the park. Every Saturday and Sunday, all season long, musicians of all genres will perform original and cover songs throughout the day. Shows are free with admission to the park.

WHEN: The Memorial Day weekend schedule will be Hindsight, alternative rock, on May 25 and Midnight Voltage, rock, on May 26.

WHERE: Six Flags Over Georgia, 275 Riverside Parkway SW in Austell

INFO: www.sixflags.com/overgeorgia.

Sunday, May 26

Kennesaw Mountain Artillery Demonstrations

WHAT: Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park will have Artillery Demonstrations. Artillerists will explain the steps of firing a cannon by detailing the role of each person working the cannon. Afterwards, the process is performed in real time and the cannon is fired. Free. Participants should note that cannon firings are very loud, especially to those with hearing sensitivity like dogs and children.

WHEN: May 26-27, 11 a.m., noon, 2 and 3 p.m.

WHERE: Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, 900 Kennesaw Mountain Drive in Kennesaw

INFO: Call 770-427-4686, ext. 0 or visit nps.gov/kemo.

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Cheatham Hill Walk

WHAT: Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park will have a Cheatham Hill Walk. Participants can join historian Brad Quinlin on a short and interactive walk around Cheatham Hill, the Illinois Monument and the Dead Angle. Programs typically last 30-45 minutes. Because this program is held outdoors, it will be weather dependent. This program is not at the Visitor Center. Parking is at the Illinois Monument parking lot, 947 Cheatham Hill Drive in Marietta.

WHEN: May 26, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

WHERE: Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, 900 Kennesaw Mountain Drive in Kennesaw

INFO: Call 770-427-4686, ext. 0 or visit nps.gov/kemo.

Monday, May 27

Marietta National Military Cemetery ceremony

WHAT: The largest Memorial Day Commemorative Observance in Georgia and the Southeast will feature United States Army Brig. Gen. Diana M. Holland as keynote speaker.

Also speaking will be Cobb resident U. S. Army Captain Retired Donna Rowe.

Over 18,000 American flags will be placed on the graves there by 3,000 area Cub, Boy, Eagle, Brownie, and Girls Scouts of America, and The Georgia Vietnam Veterans Alliance will receive The National Memorial Day Association of Georgia’s Patriot Tribute Medal for noteworthy service to veterans.

WHEN: noon

WHERE: Marietta National Military Cemetery, 500 Washington Avenue in Marietta

Smyrna Memorial Day ceremony

WHAT: The City of Smyrna will hold its annual Memorial Day ceremony. The free event honors the men and women of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, both past and present. It will also commemorate the 100th anniversary of both the Treaty of Versailles and the founding of the American Legion. The event will feature current and vintage military vehicles and weaponry, an honor guard, a 21-gun salute, a wreath laying ceremony and the elite and unique Georgia 116th Army National Guard Band. In case of inclement weather, the event will be at the Smyrna Community Center.

WHEN: May 27, 9:30 a.m.

WHERE: Veterans Park, 2800 King Street in Smyrna

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Powder Springs Memorial Day ceremony

WHAT: The American Legion Post 294 and the City of Powder Springs will remember all those who gave their lives for the country.

WHEN: May 27, noon

WHERE: The Veteran’s Memorial, 4181 Atlanta Street, Powder Springs

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Community Block Party

WHAT: Woodstock Church of Austell will have a Community Block Party. There will be free food, yard sales, a DJ, bounce houses and games.

WHEN: May 27, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: Woodstock Church of Austell, 5991 Love Street in Austell.