Nestled in the heart of Cherokee County and surrounded by the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountain foothills and Allatoona Lake, the 775-acre Georgia National Cemetery offers a fitting resting place for our country’s veterans.

Georgia National Cemetery, off Knox Bridge Road in Canton, is the second national cemetery in Georgia and the 123rd in the national cemetery system. A private citizen donated the 775-acre site to the National Cemetery Administration in 2001. Today thousands of veterans are buried at the cemetery, many of them from Cherokee County. Visitation hours are daily from sunrise to sunset at the beautiful site that is a fitting resting place for those who served this country.

Row upon row of white marble headstones mark the final resting places of those who served our country through many of its wars. Paths through the beautiful yet somber setting of gently rolling hills make it a pleasant place to visit those who helped keep our country free.

The late Scott Hudgens, a World War II veteran, land developer, and philanthropist, donated the 775-acre property to the National Cemetery Administration in 2001. The location west of Canton off Knox Bridge Highway offers 33,000 gravesites, three thousand columbaria niches (display vaults for cremation urns), and three thousand in-ground sites for cremated remains. At maximum capacity 330 acres of the site will be developed for burials. The remaining acreage is too steep to be used for interments. Historically the land was used for logging and as a hunting ground.

Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds says he is glad our community offers such a moving way to honor veterans: “On any given day of the week, the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office has the distinct honor of providing our nation’s veterans a police escort to their final resting place at the Georgia National Cemetery. Our deputies welcome all funeral processions with flashing red, white, and blue emergency strobe lights and offer a safe and secure escort on their final journey. Often citizens can be seen stopping on the side of the road, exiting their vehicle, and placing a hand over their heart. It is quite moving for all to see,” Sheriff Reynolds explains.

The sheriff’s stepfather, Lieutenant Commander Roy H. Reynolds, Jr., United States Naval Reserves, is one of those buried at Georgia National Cemetery. For Frank, his mother, and his family, having his stepfather there is a meaningful honor. “My stepfather spent twenty years as a naval aviator, and he took great pride knowing that he would be laid to rest at the Georgia National Cemetery. Every time we visit him, our hearts are filled with sincere fondness and appreciation for his service and all of our military veterans. There is nothing more solemn than passing row upon row of those magnificent marble headstones.”

Lieutenant Commander Roy H. Reynolds, Jr., United States Naval Reserves

Roy Reynolds, a Canton native who graduated from Canton High School in 1948, served in the United States Naval Reserve from 1951 to 1971. The lieutenant commander served on the USS Wasp from 1953 to 1954 during its World Cruise with the Attack Squadron VA-175, the “Devil’s Diplomats.” He was stationed at the Naval Air Station in Atlanta from 1955 to 1971, with the Fighter Squadron VF-673. He flew naval aircraft such as the AD-4 Skyraider, FJ-4 Fury, and F-8 Crusader, among others. He was an Eastern Air Lines captain from 1968 to 1989.

Since April 24, 2006, when the Georgia National Cemetery opened for burials, hundreds of services have been held there. Among those was the funeral of Andy Roach, a local attorney and state senator and representative. Thomas A. “Andy” Roach was a native of Holly Springs born on March 13, 1924. He spent the majority of his life living in Canton. Raised during the Great Depression, Andy graduated from Canton High School in 1943, where he excelled in sports and distinguished himself as an outstanding football player. In August 1943, like many eighteen-year-old men in America, Andy joined the United States Army. He left his home in Canton for the first time at nineteen years of age to fight in the South Pacific, assigned to Company G 35th Brigade 25th Infantry Division.

Sergeant Thomas A. “Andy” Roach, United States Army

Andy was awarded the Bronze Star for service to his country and fellow soldiers while fighting on the Philippine island of Lupao. Andy put his life at risk to rescue a wounded comrade pinned down by enemy crossfire. Following the longest battle in the Pacific Theater and the surrender of Japan, Andy participated in the Japanese occupation force. Andy was honorably discharged from the United States Army in January 1946, having achieved the rank of sergeant and squad leader.

After leaving the Army, Andy attended West Georgia College and Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law. Upon graduation from law school in 1950 Andy again served his country as an agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Andy left the FBI to return to Canton and “hang up his shingle” in December 1953. He began practicing law in downtown Canton with Marion Pope before establishing his own firm, where he practiced in all areas of the law for more than fifty years. Andy was also a member of Georgia General Assembly and was first elected state senator in 1956 serving the 51st Senatorial District. Andy was then elected state representative, where he served five consecutive terms.

Daughter Cathy Roach Lacy says her father never talked about his military service until later in life, when the son of one of the men he served with approached him about writing a book about his time in the military. She says it “unleashed many memories for him of his time in the war.” Of the National Cemetery Cathy remarks, “It is such an honor for us and a privilege to know it is right there. I still get a thrill when I see a penny on his tombstone and know that a service member placed it there. That makes me feel good knowing that someone paid him that honor.”

Canton resident Cathy Lacy says finding a penny on her father’s grave is meaningful because it signifies another veteran or military service member has stopped by to remember her father. A coin left on a headstone or at a gravesite is meant as a time-honored message to the deceased soldier’s family that someone visited the grave to pay respect.

Cathy is referring to a custom for visitors to cemeteries to leave coins on headstones of military personnel. A coin left on a headstone or at a grave site is meant as a message to the deceased soldier’s family that someone visited the grave to pay respect. The coins have distinct meanings when left on the headstones of veterans, which vary depending on the denomination. Leaving a penny at the grave means simply that you visited. A nickel indicates that you and the deceased trained at boot camp together, while a dime means you served with the person in some capacity. By leaving a quarter at the grave, you are telling the family that you were with the soldier when he or she was killed. According to tradition the money left at graves in national and state veterans cemeteries is eventually collected and the funds are put toward maintaining the cemetery or paying burial costs for indigent veterans.

Another meaningful time for Andy’s family, and many others, is the Wreaths Across America ceremony each December at Georgia National Cemetery to honor our veterans through the laying of remembrance wreaths on the graves of our country’s fallen heroes and the act of saying the name of each and every veteran aloud.

Each December on National Wreaths Across America Day volunteers donate and place wreaths on each of the graves at the Georgia National Cemetery to remember and honor those who served our country. This year’s event will be on Saturday, December 16, 2023. There is no better time to express our appreciation than during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season with this moving tradition.

Each grave receives a wreath provided through donations to the organization. Families can lay the single wreath on their loved one’s grave if they choose.

Cathy’s younger sister, Christie Geiger, has participated by placing the wreath on their father’s grave and says that several members of the family always attend. Cathy says, “It is so moving. I am glad the cemetery is there and thankful to the man who donated the land.”

Georgia National Cemetery is the second national cemetery in Georgia and the 123rd in the national cemetery system. Burial arrangements are made after death, as with all national cemeteries. Veterans or spouses wishing to be buried in national cemeteries should have the veteran’s military separation papers available to establish eligibility. Under certain circumstances dependent children may also be buried at the site.

The cemetery, located at 1080 Scott Hudgens Drive in Canton, welcomes visitations from sunrise to sunset. For more information visit

Honor and Remember

Visit the Georgia National Cemetery:

Observance of Korean War Veterans Day

Saturday, July 29, 2023
11:00 a.m.

Observance of V-J Day: WWII Veterans Recognition

Saturday, September 2, 2023
11:00 a.m.

Events are held at the Assembly Area in the cemetery.



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