With some Memorial Day traditions on hold, metro Atlanta families step up to honor fallen

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Some historic Memorial Day ceremonies to honor our troops will look a lot different this year.

Channel 2′s Matt Johnson was at the Marietta National Cemetery, where some families are stepping up to help honor every veteran they can and make sure they aren’t forgotten during the pandemic.

Betsy Sellars is used to laying flags every year in front of the grave for Sgt. Alan Brandon, her father who fought in World War II.

"It's a day we honor people who didn't make it home," Sellars said. "They need to be honored every year."

This Memorial Day, the Sellars family worries about the other graves at Marietta National Cemetery that belong to veterans who may not get a flag.


The mass placement of and retrieval of grave site flags are part of the Memorial Day events on hold at national cemeteries nationwide because of COVID-19.

When the Sellars family went by the Marietta cemetery Saturday, they say they brought extra flags for every grave they could get to.

"We decided to support our fallen military by placing some flags at the grave sites," husband Alan Sellars said. "Her father served in WWII. I was post-Vietnam. I lost a few friends. my son is currently working, he’s active, and he’s lost some friends, so it’s something we felt we should do."

Some local events like the annual motorcycle "Ride for America" in Loganville are canceled too.

But Mayor Rey Martinez is a 25-year Army veteran and came up with a ceremony to still bring people together while social distancing.

"We decided a few days ago to lay a wreath at the statues here in city hall, to honor those who have served and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice," Martinez said.

The Sellars aren’t the only family who has placed flags at the local national cemeteries, but they don’t want to be the last.

"Hopefully, everyone will take this up," Betsy Sellars said.

There is a national cemetery administration that makes the call on ceremonies, and it said it just can’t have thousands of volunteers getting together and placing flags during a pandemic. A small wreath-laying ceremony will acknowledge Memorial Day, but officials said they can’t formally invite the public.