Home Cherry Hill News Ceremony reflects on Memorial Day’s true meaning

Ceremony reflects on Memorial Day’s true meaning

Marine Cpl. Justin Major added to Howard F. Haas Memorial

Cpl. Justin Major, a 25-year-old Cherry Hill West graduate who died in September 2021 while on active duty with the Marine Corps, was added to the Howard F. Haas Memorial on May 30. (EMILY LIU/The Sun)

Cherry Hill Township recognized Memorial Day with its first in-person ceremony in two years on May 30 at the Howard F. Haas memorial near the municipal building.

While the three-day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, keynote speaker Army Lt. Col. Daniel Steven Bash recalled the holiday’s history, which began May 30, 1868 as Decoration Day, when people would decorate the graves of soldiers lost in the Civil War. 

The day became an official state holiday for many of the northern states in 1890, and it wasn’t until World War 1 that it became known as Memorial Day, a chance to honor all military personnel who died in all America’s wars rather than just the Civil War, Bash explained. Once it was recognized as a federal holiday, Memorial Day was celebrated on the last Monday of the month.

“Today is a special day,” he noted. “(Memorial Day) falls on May 30, which was the original day chosen for Decoration Day.”

Bash clarified the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, noting the November holiday honors anyone who has or is serving in the military, while Memorial Day focuses on those who died doing so.

“(On) Memorial Day, we celebrate those who lost their lives in war,” Bash added. “But there are those who survive the war, but lose a part of themselves.”

During the ceremony, Council President David Fleisher and County Commissioner and Gold Star Mom Melinda Kane recognized Cpl. Justin Major, a 25-year-old Cherry Hill West graduate who died in September 2021 while on active duty with the Marine Corps in Hawaii. His family was present and his name will be added to the Haas memorial. 

“Let us not be saddened by the way they died, but inspired by the way they lived,” Kane said, referring to Major and others who died during their service.

The ceremony also included a remembrance for prisoners of war and those missing in action by retired U.S. Air Force veteran and Master Sgt. Selina Kanowitz. A table was  set for one and a black cloth with the acronyms POW MIA draped across a chair.

“We pay tribute to the mothers, fathers, grandparents, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters throughout our nation’s history who have bravely and selflessly sacrificed their own tomorrows so we could live today in freedom and in peace,” Fleisher said.

“We must never forget their courage or sacrifice.”

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