- The Washington Times - Monday, July 16, 2007

RICHMOND (AP) — Virginia is taking steps to increase awareness of its two veterans cemeteries, as well as a third one in the early stages of development, officials say.

The state ranks 11th nationally with a veteran population of 740,000 and operates veterans cemeteries in Suffolk and Amelia. The third one will be in Southwestern Virginia.

Dan Demano, director of cemeteries for the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, said there is a “huge potential” for increased demand for a final and fitting resting place because of the aging Vietnam-era veteran population.

The University of Virginia has been commissioned to conduct a study on future cemetery needs. Its report is due in the fall.

In the coming year, the state veterans agency will do some paid advertising to promote the cemeteries. Officials also hope to have better representation at veterans conferences.

Interments at the cemeteries are increasing, but “we want to get them up even further,” said Anne Atkins, a spokeswoman for the department.

However fast the state decides to move, it probably wouldn’t satisfy the man for whom the Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk is named. Mr. Horton, a Navy veteran and former legislative aide, worked vigorously for creation of the state’s second veterans cemetery, which opened in 2004.

“He was the cattle prod,” said his daughter, Nancy Canu of Virginia Beach.

Mr. Horton went door to door with petitions. He made phone calls. He cajoled and persuaded.

Obstacles along the way only made him more determined.

“All they had to do was tell him, ‘No,” ” Mrs. Canu said.

Mr. Horton lobbied for the cemetery until the moment he died: He passed away at his computer, writing a letter to Gov. Mark Warner.

He and his wife, Evelyn, were the first two persons interred at the cemetery.

Any veteran with an honorable discharge who is a Virginia resident at the time of death or who was a Virginia resident at the time of enlistment is eligible for interment at one of these cemeteries. The spouse and, in some cases, a dependent child may also be interred.

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