Suffolk gathers for Horton Wreath Society Ceremony

Published 5:52 pm Monday, December 18, 2023

It was a chilly Saturday morning as individuals from all walks of life gathered to honor the lives of lost veterans. Residents, as well as military and city officials, attended the Horton Wreath Society Annual Wreath Laying Ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 16, at Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery.

Serving as guest speakers for the annual event was Commanding Officer, NS Norfolk Capt. Janet H. Days and Congresswoman Jennifer Kiggans as guest speakers and included the Presentation of Colors and rifle volley from Horton Honor Guard, the national anthem by Commodore Chorus, Invocation by Father Brian Fafferty, and a bagpipe performance of “Amazing Grace” by Dr. David Lotz. Following the ceremony, attendees dispersed to place wreaths across the cemetery to honor loved ones lost.

Horton Wreath Society President Michael J. Yarbrough reflected on the ceremony, noting the new additions to this year’s program.

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“We changed it up a little bit, not so much, but we did add the Albert G. Horton Honor Guard this year, which has all new flags for every service, and we added a gun volley to represent and honor our service members out here,” Yarbrough said.

In the ceremony’s 16th year and his 6th year as president, Yarbrough talked about the process of getting over 13,000 wreaths together for the ceremony.

“Behind the closed doors and pre-ceremony, we have meetings and we work out all these logistics … The biggest thing is trying to get funds raised, enough to purchase enough wreaths for every burial site,” Yarbrough said. 

He detailed that the Army National Guard Armory near the Sentara Obici hospital has been a key part in keeping donated wreaths safe in their garage before volunteers transfer them to participating FedEx and Semi Trucks. Yarbrough noted over 60 Nansemond River JROTC students and Dominion Power and Cox Cable providing help before the ceremony’s big day. He likewise notes the support from the general public coming to the event and Venture Tours providing bus transportation for attendance. For those who want to support Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery, Yarbrough detailed ways people can provide donations.

“Donations are via mail. By January/February time frame, we should have some type of electronic pay on our website,” he said. “Hopefully, by January/February, we’ll have somewhere on that webpage that they can go directly and pay electronically, and it makes it easier for them.”

Donations can be made by mail to:

HWS Treasurer

P, O. Box 6246, 

Virginia Beach, VA 23456-0246

For more information, go to hortonwreathsociety.org, or dvs.virginia.gov/cemeteries/suffolk-cemetery.