Georgia National Cemetery
Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains of North Georgia is a solemn tribute to Veterans of all branches of our Armed Services. When your turn off Georgia Hwy 20, in Canton, the one and a half mile non descript road winds uphill through a thicket of new growth pines to the main entrance. The breathtaking beauty of this site is overwhelming .Located midway between Canton and Cartersville, there are views of the Blue Ridge mountains and depending on the foliage, Lake Altoona.
The Georgia National Cemetery opened in 2006 and is managed by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, The 775 acres of land that encompass the site was donated by the late Scott Hudgens .Mr Hudgen, an Atlanta native, was a WWII veteran, land developer and philanthropist. Only approximately 330 acres of the land will be used for burial. The remaining land is too steep for development. It is estimated there will be room for 33,000 full-casket gravesites, 3,000 in-ground sites for cremation remains and 3,000 columbaria niches for cremated remains. There are also covered seating area for committal services, a flag plaza, assembly grounds and a scatter garden.Just past the entrance is the Information Center with restrooms and a kiosk where you can locate the burial site of a loved one. This is also where the processions gather for funerals and burials here.
Graves are marked with simple marble stones that tell the names, branch of service, rank of the veteran , and dates of birth and death. In addition, an approved insignia and small personalization can be included. Spouses and dependent children may also be interred here. Burial arrangements cannot be made until the death of the service person. No grave spaces are reserved. On Veteran’s day the graves are marked with small American flags. In December, simple evergreen wreaths with white bows can be purchased to be placed on the stones.
The silence and reverence that fills this place is hard to describe. Each time I visit I am overcome with thankfulness for those that serve and have served to protect our freedom. When you first see the rows upon rows of white marble markers it is an incredible site. Once you visit you will never be the same.
If you would like to visit, the cemetery hours are daily from sunrise to sunset.
Directions from I-75: Take exit 290 (Highway 20) toward Canton (east). Travel 12 miles, turn left into cemetery entrance located near Knox Bridge.
Directions from I-575: Take exit 16, go left at the overpass and follow the signs to GA Highway 20. Turn left (west) on to GA Highway 20 for approximately six miles, cross the Knox Bridge and the cemetery entrance is on the right.