HomeMoorestown NewsKeeping names and memories alive for Memorial Day

Keeping names and memories alive for Memorial Day

Special to The Sun
Moorestown’s 2023 Memorial Day ceremony featured Navy Commander Craig Reiner as the guest speaker. This year’s speaker will be Navy Capt. Brian J. Hillers, who has served more than 30 years in the reserves.

Moorestown’s Memorial Day ceremony – a township tradition for more than 35 years – will as always honor men and women of the military who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving the U.S.

The event has been under the direction of Judith Young, who took over planning with Jean Gash in 1986. Three years ago, Young passed her responsibilities onto Brooke Van Saun, who coordinates the ceremony with her husband, Army Reserves Lt. Col. Alan Van Saun.

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“We always knew that when Alan transitioned out of the military, we had to somehow keep it in our lives and do the best we can to keep our fallen soldiers, their names alive,” Van Saun said. “I was super honored that she (Young) felt like I was capable of taking over the reins of such an amazing event and something that was so near and dear to her heart.

“It’s truly an honor,” she added. “We just hope to continue the tradition and keep as many soldier’s names (and) memories alive as possible.”

This year’s ceremony will be held at Memorial Field on South Church Street at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 27. Guests are encouraged to bring their own chairs for an event that will include a presentation of the colors, recitation of names from the memorial wall and a wreath laying by local Girl Scouts.

“Taps” will be played by a member of the Moorestown High School band and Post 42 of the American Legion will fire a 21-gun salute.

“People think of Memorial Day as, ‘Let’s go down to the beach,’ and it’s the start of summer, but it has more meaning than that and that’s our goal,” Van Saun explained, “to teach people about what Memorial Day is truly about.

“It’s not just about the beach and warm weather, it’s about the soldiers who gave everything for our country.”

This year’s guest speaker will be Navy Reserve Capt. Brian J. Hillers, who has served more than 30 years in that branch and was mobilized three times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the conflict against al Qaeda that began a month after 9/11. He lives in Moorestown with his wife and son.

Mayor Nicole Gillespie, a veteran and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, will welcome attendees.

“I always look forward to the speaker, but I also love to see how many children are in the crowd …” she noted. “That’s really who we need to know about Memorial Day, too. We need to ingrain it in children’s heads how important it is …

“They need to know their heroism.”


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