Wreath ceremony set for Saturday

Published 11:05 pm Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In memory: Wreaths will adorn every grave at Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery throughout the Christmas season. The Wreath Society raises money year-round for the wreaths.

Wreaths will adorn each of the more than 3,000 graves at Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery this weekend.

The Horton Wreath Society will place the wreaths Saturday morning with the help of volunteers from several community organizations and the public.

“We do it to honor the military who have served their time and, in many instances, had to give their lives,” said Jeanne Banks, who heads up the Wreath Society’s efforts. “We want to honor them this way.”

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The Wreath Society raises money all year long to buy a wreath for each burial site at the cemetery during the Christmas season. Volunteers help raise the money, prepare the wreaths and bows, drive them to the cemetery Saturday morning and place them at each burial site.

This year, the Patriot Guard Riders will provide a motorcycle escort for the truck carrying the wreaths to the cemetery. They will arrive at the cemetery at 9:30 a.m.

Beginning at 9:45 a.m., family members will place wreaths at their loved ones’ graves, followed by volunteers who will place wreaths at other burial sites.

A program begins at 11:55 a.m., which will include keynote speaker retired U.S. Navy Commander Paul Galanti, head of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. Opening remarks will be given by Frank Salvas Sr., state cemetery grants service director. The program also will include Ray Bennett singing the National Anthem, an original poem by Jeanne Banks, a bugler playing “Taps” and a flyover.

“It’s a very inspiring morning,” Banks said. “This is a very simple way to show our appreciation. Even if someone has never lost a close relative in the military, they can still appreciate what others have done.”

Contributions to the wreath society this year have come from all over the United States. The wreaths already are paid for, Banks said.

“We’ve had representatives from all over the country, because they have relatives here,” Banks said. “They would be very inspired to see how beautiful the cemetery is when it has the wreaths.”

The veterans’ cemetery is located at 5310 Milners Road.

To donate money for next year’s wreaths, make out checks to The Wreath Society and send to SunTrust Bank, 123 N. Main St., Suffolk, VA 23434.