Support the Wreath Society

Published 9:42 pm Wednesday, October 12, 2011

When members of the Horton Wreath Society first started the tradition of laying wreaths at the grave of every deceased veteran buried at the Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery four years ago, only one small portion of that facility had been filled, and the commitment must not have seemed all that great.

Members of the nonprofit organization knew they wanted to do something to honor those heroes whose final resting place would be in the soil of the state veterans cemetery located alongside a back road in Suffolk. They were looking for a project that would provide visible proof that this community honors the debt it owes to those men and women who have served in the nation’s armed forces.

At some point, it must have become obvious to the small group that there would come a day when old age and continuing wars would combine to outpace the ability of a few people to raise enough funds to continue their tradition without modification. But still — even as rows and rows of new graves were dug to hold the remains of men and women who had fought on the beaches of Normandy, in the jungles of Southeast Asia and in the mountains of Afghanistan — this small group held faith that their tradition of honor was worthy of their respect.

Email newsletter signup

During the past year, the number of occupied gravesites at the Horton cemetery has grown by 20 percent. Members of the Wreath Society worry that this could be the year when they finally are forced to change the tradition — no longer placing wreaths on every grave, but looking for some alternative, cheaper way of carrying out their mission to honor the veterans buried there.

Continuing the tradition by placing a wreath on every grave — an activity almost as moving in process as it is at its completion — will cost the society $28,690, according to its estimates. That’s money the group does not have and must raise from private individuals and businesses that want to help honor these American service members.

Clearly, this is the kind of program that will never save a life, nor put clothes on someone’s back, nor teach a child to read. Nonetheless, the Wreath Society’s objective is a noble one and one that resonates with ideals that go far back into our nation’s history. We do these kinds of things not because they make a tangible difference, but because of how they bind us to the concept of being Americans.

This year, especially, the Wreath Society needs help. Contributions may be sent to SunTrust Bank, 123 N. Main St., Suffolk, VA 23434. Checks should be made out to the Horton Wreath Society. If the organization’s ideals strike a chord with you, please contribute.