Service begets service

Published 10:11 pm Monday, December 16, 2013

For several years now, the Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery has been the fortunate beneficiary of an effort to make sure every gravesite is adorned with a wreath at Christmas, just like the graves at the nationally known Arlington National Cemetery.

And for the last couple of years, Oaklawn Cemetery in downtown, tucked away in a corner near the city’s Human Resources building, has been the target of cleanup efforts after many years of neglect. Private citizens, businesses and even volunteers from Dominion Virginia Power have expended many dollars and much sweat keeping the grass cut, gravestones clean and clear of overgrowth, and generally making the cemetery a fitting place for those whose remains rest there and their families.

This year, those two important community efforts bore an offshoot that is sure to continue for many more years.

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In addition to the ceremony at Horton, the power company hosted a Wreaths Across America ceremony at Oaklawn Cemetery.

Volunteers from the company conducted the event, and the Dominion Foundation paid for the 175 wreaths that were placed on veterans’ graves at the historically black cemetery.

It was a long-overdue honor for the veterans there, some of whom served as far back as the Civil War. And it would not have been possible without the work of local citizens, including Tracy Stewart, who single-handedly spearheaded the cleanup efforts several years ago.

At the Oaklawn Cemetery as it was three years ago, volunteers would not have been able to see the graves, never mind determine which ones belonged to veterans and place a wreath at each one.

We applaud all those involved for their willingness to serve their community and make it a better place. It’s not as easy as stroking a check, but the families of those buried at Oaklawn won’t forget your efforts.