Eastside

Cherry Hill holds annual Memorial Day ceremony

The+stage+for+the+ceremony+at+the+Cherry+Hill+Municipal+Complex
The stage for the ceremony at the Cherry Hill Municipal Complex

The stage for the ceremony at the Cherry Hill Municipal Complex

Sophia Sitnick ('20)

Sophia Sitnick ('20)

The stage for the ceremony at the Cherry Hill Municipal Complex

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Cherry Hill Township observed Memorial Day on Monday with its annual ceremony honoring fallen soldiers, which took place beginning at 10:45 a.m. at the Municipal Complex on Mercer Street.

In 1971, Memorial Day became a federal holiday which is observed on the last Monday of May each year. It provides Americans the opportunity to honor members of the armed forces who have died while in military service. Flags are flown at half-staff and many communities acknowledge the holiday by hosting ceremonies and parades and by placing American flags at veterans’ memorials and gravesites.

Sophia Sitnick (’20)
Vietnam Veterans lining up for lapel pins

In 2000, driven by a desire to promote greater understanding of the Memorial Day holiday, President Clinton enacted the National Moment of Remembrance Act. The act calls for a national moment of silence to be observed at 3 p.m. local time throughout the country. This symbolic moment allows citizens to pause for one minute and reflect on those who have sacrificed their lives in service of the United States of America.

The Cherry Hill Township Memorial Day ceremony opened with the Presentation of Colors led by the Cherry Hill Police and Fire Department Honor Guard and the Cherry Hill West Air Force Junior ROTC. After escorting flags to the war memorial nearby the stage, the Honor Guard and ROTC remained at attention for the entire ceremony. Alana Divito, a Cherry Hill West student, performed “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

A highlight of the ceremony was opening remarks from Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn, who asked audience members to take the time to shake hands with a veteran and thank them for their service. Cahn also reminded attendees that, as a community, in recent years, Cherry Hill has suffered the loss of several members of the armed services.

“As we know, Memorial Day has taken on a very personal significance in Cherry Hill in the last decade with the loss of three of our own in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: Lieutenant Colonel John Spahr, Captain Gregory Dalessio and Lance Corporal Jeremy Kane [a 2006 graduate of Cherry Hill East High School], son of our own councilwoman and gold star mother Melinda Kane,” he said. “. . . . Sadly, this year we lost another Cherry Hill son  . . . sailor Kenneth Smith, a 2013 graduate of Cherry Hill East High School and a resident who lost his life on August 21 in a collision between the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker. We are thankful for Kenneth’s service. His name has been added to the war memorial . . . .”

Sophia Sitnick (’20)
The Honor Guard performing their duties.

Sophia Sitnick (’20)
The American flag raised at half-staff among the war memorial.

Keynote Speaker Col. Lucretia McClenney, U.S. Army, Ret. gave a moving speech about the national Fiftieth Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration. Vietnam veterans in attendance were asked to rise and were presented with special anniversary lapel pins to honor their military service.

David Fleisher, Township Council President, called on veterans to share their experiences so that younger people will understand the sacrifices that our military members have made for our country.

“To our veterans here today, we ask you to please tell your stories,” he said. “If you’ve already told them, tell them again. We thank you for your service and for helping ensure we never forget the cost of freedom.”

Although a scheduled flyover by F16 fighter jets was cancelled due to weather conditions, attendees enjoyed multiple uplifting performances by the Cherry Hill Pine Barons Chorus. Songs performed included the “Armed Forces Medley” and “America The Beautiful.” A military salute followed by a heartfelt bugle performance of “Taps” by Cherry Hill East’s very own band director, Mr. Timothy Keleher, was apropos to the occasion. At the end of the ceremony, local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts placed a wreath at the war memorials. After the ceremony, guests were treated to lunch provided by Wegmans.

All of the speakers at the Memorial Day ceremony shared a common message urging community members to honor the courageous and selfless acts of courage of those that gave their lives.

Sophia Sitnick (’20)
A flag displayed from a firetruck.

Although there was a standing-room-only crowd, Fleisher emphasized the importance of getting more young people to attend the event. He asked that the next generation take the time to recognize this nation’s heroes and the meaning of Memorial Day. All members of the Cherry Hill community are invited to attend the ceremony next year to experience the moving program.

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About the Writer
Sophia Sitnick, Eastside Online Editor

Sophia Sitnick can usually be found at East enjoying a leisurely three course lunch in Caf 2. Sophia loves to laugh and does not take herself too seriously. If your favorite TV shows include The Office or Friends, you can count on Soph to throw some good TV trivia at you. In her spare time, Sophia enjoys dancing, walking her dog and volunteering at her temple.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Cherry Hill holds annual Memorial Day ceremony”

  1. Adrienne Freidin on May 31st, 2018 2:28 pm

    Always enjoy reading Sophia Sitnick’s articles!!

  2. Colonel Nelson L Mellitz, USAF, Ret on June 4th, 2018 5:42 pm

    Left out of the article is that the American Legion Post 372 and Jewish War Veterans Post 126, both from Cherry Hill are instrumental in organizing and presenting this very important Memorial Day ceremony. AL and JWV have been working with the Cherry Hill Township leadership for over ten year in honoring township Veterans.

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