Horton improvements have great value

Published 9:20 pm Monday, October 8, 2012

Many of Suffolk’s attractions and amenities are judged by the amount of interest they draw for the community. Do they bring people to the city who are eager to spend money at restaurants and retail shops while they’re visiting? Are they compelling enough to cause people to stay in hotels overnight?

Attractions like Riddick’s Folly, the Great Dismal Swamp, the lakes and the city’s historic homes, buildings and other sites, along with various events such as Peanut Festival and others, all help bring people to Suffolk, where they spend money and contribute to the city’s tax base.

But at least one of the city’s attractions rises above such distinctions. The Albert G. Horton Memorial Veterans Cemetery is one of those rare features whose importance is entirely unconnected to any thought of economic return on investment. The simple honor of hosting the cemetery is its own reward.

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The cemetery is the final resting place for thousands of veterans from the various branches of the United States military, and more are buried in that hallowed ground nearly every day. Living veterans, family members of the deceased and others who wish to honor the deceased veterans resting there come to the cemetery several times a year for events steeped in ceremonial ritual. The healing such rituals help to bring is, perhaps, only surpassed by the lessons they teach to younger generations about respect and sacrifice.

The federal government’s Veterans Cemetery Grants Program, part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, has helped assure the important healing and teaching work that takes place at Horton Memorial Veterans Cemetery will be even more effective in the future. A $3.3-million grant will support roadway expansions, irrigation improvements and new signs at the cemetery, according to Senator Mark Warner.

The improvements at Horton are vital to helping administrators there continue to provide the most respectful and enriching experience possible for the thousands of family, friends and supporters of the military who visit the cemetery each year. The work is worth every penny set aside for it, regardless of any perceived economic benefits. The nation already has benefited from the lives of those who rest there.