Cemetery breaks ground for new Honor Corps Building
Published 5:31 pm Friday, April 28, 2023
Officials came out on a windy Tuesday morning to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Memorial Honor Guard Corps Building at the Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery.
The building is set to add both workspace and shelter for Honor Guard Corps volunteers through the year through a partnership with nonprofit MITS-GIVES and the Virginia Department of Veteran Services.
“I cannot tell you how much it means to us here at Albert G. Horton Jr. to have our very own team of volunteers surrender honors to our veterans, providing the final benefit our fallen heroes will receive,” cemetery Superintendent Angela Bufano told the crowd at the Tuesday, April 25 event.
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Bufano described schedule and traffic conflicts as well as other issues causing honor teams to be unable to make it to the cemetery in the past. It was soon determined for the cemetery to have its own honor team on site.
“That was when my boss, Mr. Mike Hendshaw, the Director of Cemeteries, came up with the solution and was eager to attend one of Horton Wreath Society’s meetings to throw the idea out there in hopes Horton Wreath Society or someone they knew would be interested in creating a 501-C(3), a non-profit organization. To our surprise, Mr. Mike Ihrig quickly accepted the challenge. For you sir, we are profoundly grateful,” said Bufano. “Your acceptance of this mission will allow every veteran we serve to receive honors they deserve.”
She said cemetery officials can’t wait to get this new facility constructed.
“Today, we break ground for a building that will serve a purpose so meaningful to our veterans and families we serve and so truly meaningful to the staff who have to face the families everyday,” Bufano said. “Needless to say, having to tell one family that honors won’t be rendered is too many. And unfortunately we are delivering that sad news way more than once per month.”
Michael Ihrig, chief executive officer of both MI Technical Solutions Inc. and MITS-GIVES Inc., expressed his honor in helping make the project happen.
“For me, it’s heartfelt and I am just honored to be part of it,” Ihrig said. “Just honored to be part of it and honored that all you folks are here to help that dream become a reality.”
William Johnson Sr., Sergeant of Arms of Memorial Honor Guard Corps, who along with his son supported the project’s electrical plans, stressed the importance of supporting those who gave their lives to serve.
“We’re here for whoever’s in that box, that signed that contract that says ‘I will give 100%, if not more,’” Johnson said. “It brings me joy and tears to come out here and do this, to help this organization. Getting people to talk with their employees, to volunteer, to come help.”
Following the ceremony, Johnson said the project was a “labor of love” for him.
“My goal’s to make this work so every veteran that comes out here that doesn’t already have an honor guard provided will have somebody here to render honors,” Johnson said.
Other speakers at the April 25 event from Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery included Lead Cemetery Representative Morgan Yeager and Chaplain David Schlichter of the Chesapeake Naval Brig. Al and Richard Horton, sons of Albert G. Horton Jr., attended the groundbreaking along with Suffolk Mayor Michael D. Duman, Sheriff E.C. Harris and Deputy Major David Miles.