Ohio residents who are reading this, and readers across the country, know that this past Monday was Memorial Day. While Memorial Day is meaningful wherever you live, Marietta takes a particularly long pause to ponder all who have come before us to create the life we enjoy today.
Marietta is marking its 230th anniversary this year. One year older than the Northwest Territory itself, Marietta, Ohio was the first settlement in the new area of the now independent United States. The area was settled by Revolutionary War veterans who had served under George Washington. A party led by General Rufus Putnam arrived from Massachusetts on two ships, The Galley and The Adelphia, and Marietta (named for Marie Antoinette of France) has stood on the site ever since.
The Revolutionary War foundation on which Marietta was built is far from forgotten, whether it is Memorial Day or any other day of the year. One of the most popular landmarks in this historic area is Mound Cemetery, built around an ancient Adena burial mound. Numerous veterans are buried in the cemetery. Along with Rufus Putnam himself, there are at least 37 Revolutionary War heroes buried on these grounds. Several veterans from other wars have been laid to rest there as well.
Although the Mound Cemetery is perhaps the best-known cemetery in Marietta, it is not the only one where one can pay respects to veterans dating from the Revolutionary War and onwards. Harmar Cemetery, which is located a bit off the beaten path, is actually the oldest cemetery in the Northwest Territory. It was begun in 1796 and many founders of Marietta selected the site as their burial place.
There are less somber ways to mark Memorial Day as a resident of Marietta, too. This year there were numerous parades throughout Washington County and across the river in nearby Parkersburg. The numerous scenic paths around the area make it easy to find a spot to enjoy a family picnic or a quiet hike.
We often talk about Historic Marietta on this site, but Memorial Day is a time when we focus particularly on the roots of this small, picturesque town. Marietta was a first of firsts in many ways, and all of it was made possible by men who survived the Revolutionary War and decided they would venture out into a world that had not yet been settled by Americans.