Moorestown commemorates fallen heroes

The township’s annual Memorial Day ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 27.

On Monday, May 27, at 10 a.m., Moorestown Township will hold its 33rd annual Memorial Day celebration at Memorial Field. Gene Clark, commander of William H. Snyder Post 42 with the American Legion, said Moorestown’s ceremony is a perfect example of how communities should observe this solemn day.

“The township does a great job of finding the guest speakers for the ceremony and seeing the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, high school band and local churches providing a backdrop of reverence and honor – that make this day special,” Clark said.

The theme of this year’s ceremony is “90 Years Strong” honoring the 90th anniversary of American Gold Star Mothers, an organization comprised of mothers who lost their sons or daughters who were serving in the United States Armed Forces. Judy Young, whose son Jeffrey Young is the namesake of Jeff Young Memorial Park, will serve as the featured speaker.

Theresa Miller, director of Moorestown’s Parks and Recreation Department, said given Young’s active involvement in the township’s Memorial Day ceremony and the 90th anniversary of American Gold Star Mothers (of which Young served on the national board for six years), it was only right that she should speak about the organization’s work.

The ceremony will kick off with a musical prelude from Moorestown High School’s marching band before Boy Scout Troop 44 performs the posting of the colors. From there, MHS’ band will perform the national anthem, and a representative from the Second Baptist Church of Moorestown will give the invocation followed by some words from Mayor Lisa Petriello and Deputy Mayor Nicole Gillespie.

From there, Young will speak about American Gold Star Mothers. Young became a Gold Star mother in 1983 when her son, Sgt. Jeffrey Young, was killed in Lebanon while serving in the Marine Corps. Young said most people don’t know what a Gold Star Mother is or what the organization does, so she saw the anniversary as a prime opportunity to talk about their mission to lend their volunteer efforts to the Armed Service and veteran communities.

Miller said the township has kept a running list of every local veteran from Moorestown who has served in a war and since passed. Young will read the list, and each time she calls a name, one of the Moorestown Community Girl Scouts will take a flower up to Young. Young cuts the flowers, which are subsequently made into a wreath. She said it’s a special part of the ceremony that gets the young generation involved.

“It’s important people know who their citizens were and who did not come home,” Young said.

William H. Snyder Post 42 will follow the flower ceremony with a 21-gun salute. Clark said the tradition comes from battle ceasefires when each side would clear the dead, and a three-volley salute would indicate that the dead were cleared and properly cared for.

The ceremony will close with a benediction and musical conclusion from MHS’ band.

Clark said the Moorestown community is especially grateful and proud of its veterans and their sacrifices.

“Our freedom and quality of life is only possible because of the brave men and women who wear the uniform,” Clark said. “Veterans are most welcome and appreciated in Moorestown.”

The ceremony will start at 10 a.m. at Memorial Fields on South Church Street in Moorestown.