Wreaths laid at OaklawnPublished 10:12pm Tuesday, December 17, 2013
About 175 veterans buried at the Oaklawn Cemetery in downtown Suffolk received an honor on par with their comrades buried in Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery and other state and national veterans cemeteries.
Dominion Virginia Power coordinated the ceremony on Saturday at the long-neglected cemetery off Market Street. Volunteers placed the wreaths, which were purchased by the Dominion Foundation.
The historically black cemetery contains about 2,600 graves but had been unkempt for many years, until grassroots efforts began about three years ago. Veterans dating back to the Civil War’s U.S. Colored Troops, as well as the World Wars (including a Tuskegee Airman) and Korean War, found their final resting place at the cemetery.
“The unexpected display of holiday cheer meant so much to the city, local members of the military and Suffolk residents with ancestors buried there,” said Bonita Harris of Dominion.
During the cemetery, Councilman Charles Parr brought greetings from the city, Harris said. A wreath was laid for each branch of the service, as well as for prisoners of war and those missing in action.
“It may not have been as large in number (as the Horton ceremony), with 175 wreaths, but it was huge in emotion for supporters of the historic African-American cemetery that had been abandoned for years,” Harris said.