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The Flag Detail 2002
Marietta National Cemetery

It’s a tribute to those that are interred at any of the National Cemeteries to have the miniature flags set in place at each headstone and footstone in commemoration. It’s the least to be done in commemoration to each of these gravesites as the years tend to pare away the personal recognition on the individual and the offering of thousands of American flags invokes the kindred purpose that they men and women are found here. I feel very fortunate to have been able to continue a tradition on a personal endeavor for the sake of my family, but there comes another tradition that I hope may be something for the reader to consider each Memorial Day.

These miniature flags are planted at each site by the Boy Scouts in Marietta National Cemetery. These good young men and ladies take this task each year and do their utmost in placing 17,000+ miniature flags throughout Marietta National. This landscape of flags when viewed as a whole, all fluttering in the breeze in one direction gives you a chance to recognize more than just marble in a quick view of the cemetery. It details out that each flag represents an individual sacrifice that goes along with that flag and that each individual sacrifice adds up to the sum of what we all have come to enjoy as Americans.

Having said that, a miniature flag on a slender wooden stake is what is offered each year as time, family and memory fades away. And that slender wooden stake does have it’s problems with serving it’s purpose as the Georgia clay is sometimes too tough to drive a 16-penny nail into with a hammer, much less install a wooden stake by the hands of a young man or woman. And as the breeze blows around the crests, trees and terrain…the breeze will sometimes lift the flag and stake out of the ground.

A few years ago, my wife Susan…while with me to install our annual wreaths…walked away to stand up a couple of flags that had fallen over. It was an endless task that required more manpower; and the next year we set about with the intent of the Flag Detail as suggested by then CW3 Tom Golden. After the small occasion to place wreaths, the task to walk the entire Marietta National site began as flags were falling everywhere you looked. Again, the Boy Scouts did their duty…conditions and materials were in failure and continue in failure each year.

Walking through 17,000 headstones is a trip in history. To stop for each fallen flag and take note of the headstone markings is a more than interesting way to spend the afternoon. Happening upon new stones for veterans that earned the right to rest here alongside heroes of long ago wars that go as far back as the Revolution is an amazing passage. Finding family members that sacrificed their lifestyles and lives just in keeping the home together while other members went to battle is a commentary in and of itself as to the range of sacrifice that makes up the whole picture.

I finally lifted my head up to see where I was after an hour or so of Flag Detail, and found myself in the middle…surrounded on all sides in a surreal landscape of movement, blowing grasses and flags to realize how very much alive these flags make this hallowed ground each year. We choose not to go there to listen to politicians that make the same statements coming from the same tired old political handbook. This day will never be their day, as they or their speechwriter always seems to fall back on the same pre-election speeches that curry to the dwindling attendees. I hold the Memorial Day “political enthusiasm” in the same contempt as I would hold any retailer that advertises a “Memorial Day SALE!” It’ a salacious act to gather votes and just like the retailer, it’s a self-serving issue that cheapens the deserved respect and honor due to our military that fades with time and human nature.

Instead, I have a schedule to keep and welcome all to attend. I solicit and encourage the reader; welcome and honor all veterans and will refrain from kicking politicians and retailers that would meet my schedule. Each Saturday preceding Memorial Day will always find a number of us at 11AM setting out my family’s annual wreaths; and for the next couple of hours walking this grounds to re-install fallen flags. When I was a young Boy Scout, I learned that the American Flag does NOT touch the ground. Now as a Gold Star brother, I’ve learned that there’s never one person in 17,000 that should ever go without the honor and recognition that this single miniature flag presents in uniformity to 17,000 others at Marietta National.

It gives that headstone the life that it deserves once a year.

Dan Turner
Memorial Day 2002

Hawaiian Lei's from Oahu

Rich Sroka, Dan Turner, Jim Garner

Jim Garner on Flag Detail

Tom Golden and Dan Turner

A Special Thanks to the Honorable Men & Women of CasBar and their Memorial Day wreath for this occasion. Hand Salute!!

Tribute to Michael Barry Turner

Created Memorial Day - 5/27/2002


Song: Cavatina - Theme to the movie the Deer Hunter
Composed by Stanley Meyers
Arranged and performed by Dan Turner