Remember. Honor. Teach.

Published 9:54 pm Saturday, December 10, 2011

Each year, one of the most emotionally moving events in Suffolk takes place at the Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery, when a group of volunteers takes time on the second Saturday in December to place wreaths on each of the more than 3,000 gravesites as a part of Wreaths Across America.

That moving ceremony took place on Saturday in Suffolk and at veterans’ cemeteries around the nation through the efforts of volunteers, who raised money for the wreaths from private donors and then donated their own time to place those wreaths during the special ceremonies.

Wreaths Across America describes its mission as simply: “Remember. Honor. Teach.” In addition to the wreath-laying ceremonies, there is a week’s worth of events that include, according to the organization’s website, “international veteran’s tributes, ceremonies at State Houses and a week-long ‘Veteran’s Parade’ between Maine and Virginia where we stop along the way to spread our message about the importance of remembering our fallen heroes, honoring those who serve, and teaching our children about the sacrifices made by veterans and their families to preserve our freedoms.”

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As other groups gathered around the nation, a couple hundred spent the morning in Suffolk laying wreaths and then participating in a ceremony during which Chief Warrant Officer Phillip Brashear, U.S. Army, described dodging tracer rounds in his Chinook helicopter while deployed to the Middle East in America’s war on terror.

Brashear is just the sort of person Wreaths Across America seeks to honor, someone who puts life and limb at risk in pursuit of protecting this nation. Whether they’re veterans of America’s most recent wars or others going back to World War I, many of the nation’s finest heroes have found a final resting place, a place to be remembered, at Horton Memorial Veterans Cemetery.

The debt of gratitude that Americans owe these deceased veterans can hardly be repaid. As it is often noted, freedom is not free. And many of our veterans paid the ultimate price for it. It is for them, especially, that events like Saturday’s are dedicated. We remember them. We honor them. And we pledge to teach our children about them.