Fallen honored

Published 7:43 pm Monday, May 29, 2017

Thousands of American flags fluttered in the breeze, each of them by a headstone at Suffolk’s Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery on Monday.

Family, friends and more came to the cemetery on Memorial Day to honor their loved ones that served. The cemetery held its annual Memorial Day ceremony and welcomed a new monument for its heroes, as hundreds of Hampton Roads residents came to remember those no longer with us.

“This is the time to remember all of those who gave their lives in service of this great country of ours,” said Gerald Rhoads, former department commander of the American Legion Department of Virginia.

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The annual ceremony is organized by the American Legion Nansemond-Suffolk Post 88, the Horton Wreath Society, Patriot Guard Riders and Tidewater Tidal Waves of Hampton Roads.

American Legion Nansemond-Suffolk Post 88 members at their new veterans memorial monument unveiled at Suffolk’s Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery on Monday.

Delegate S. Chris Jones spoke about the 100-year anniversary of America’s entry into World War I on April 6. He explained the responsibility of all Americans to remember the sacrifices of its service men and women.

More than 100 citizens in attendance listened to the speeches and witnessed the placing of wreaths, which signifies the responsibility of all citizens to honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice.

“There isn’t a doubt that our veterans paved the way to our reputation as a fighting force that’s second to none,” said U.S. Navy Commander Ronald J. Kish, the ceremony’s keynote speaker.

American Legion members then moved to the unveiling of their new veterans’ memorial monument.

The $6,500 project was led by executive board member Tommy Dee. Ogg Stone Works of Portsmouth finished construction of the monument six months ago, and as part of the project, a memorial bench for the site is expected to be finished by the end of July, according to vice commander Gerald Soucheray.

A monument park is planned for the site, with this monument being the first.

“When Post 88 decided to undertake the design and construction of this veterans’ memorial monument, we were determined that it should be something special,” Soucheray said.

The monument bears symbols and emblems that honor different areas of military service. It has the flag for prisoners of war and military personnel missing in action. Service emblems recognize branches of U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

“I think as a nation, we are judged by how we treat our veterans,” Dee said. “We want to show how grateful we are for all the people that gave their service or their lives for our freedom.”

That afternoon, these fallen heroes were looked after by their loved ones. Visitors were at the graves of service men and women, as well as the resting places for military family members.

Constance Ribeiro was at the grave of her husband, Michael Ribeiro. Michael served four years in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. Ribeiro said her husband cherished his military years, with pictures of his time in the service throughout their house.

He passed away on Feb. 21, 2017, at age 71. He was given a military funeral with full honors.

“I clutched the flag and cried for hours,” she said.

Soucheray said, above all else, Memorial Day is about remembering the fallen. It’s about reflecting and giving gratitude to “the people that allowed you to have what you have today.”

“Give a toast to those who cannot give a toast themselves,” he said.