Cemetery breaks new ground

Published 10:07 pm Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Officials break ground for a new section of Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery on Tuesday. The new section is being paid for with a grant.

The Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery on Tuesday accepted a $3.3 million grant and hosted a groundbreaking for a new section of the cemetery.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will be used to install more than 4,000 double-depth outer burial containers in the new section, to install irrigation and signage and to pave the interior road serving the new section.

The grant ensures veterans and their family members buried in the state veterans cemetery receive benefits equal to those buried in national cemeteries, said David Schettler, deputy undersecretary for management at the National Cemetery Administration.

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“We are proud to be your partner,” Schettler said in his remarks. “We look forward to seeing the completed project.”

Unlike the current sections, where outer burial containers are placed in the ground just before the burial, the new section will have the containers pre-installed in the ground thanks to the grant, said Dan Kemano, cemeteries director for the state Department of Veterans Services. Having them pre-placed makes it easier on the cemetery and saves the veterans’ family a significant expense — the containers cost at least $400, Kemano said.

Tuesday’s ceremony included speeches by dignitaries and the presentation of a ceremonial check at the cemetery’s committal shelter, then a groundbreaking at the new section, which is to the right of cars entering the cemetery on Milners Road.

Gerald Rhodes, the founder of the American Legion Nansemond Post 88, participated in the ceremony.

“The men and women who served our country deserve this benefit,” he said shortly before the groundbreaking. “We are very honored and proud to be a part of this ceremony.”

Mayor Linda T. Johnson represented the host city at the ceremony.

“Suffolk is proud to be the home of this wonderful facility,” she said. “We’re here to accept a grant that is going to do so much for those who have given to us. It is the very least we can do to show our support to the loved ones of those who gave so much.”