By Lexie Yearly
Amy and Pat Moore beam with pride as they recount stories of their son’s work as a firefighter and EMT, his involvement in his community, and the way he drove his parents crazy for most of his childhood years.
They haven’t stopped honoring the memory of Spc. Benjamin G. Moore since he was killed in the line of duty two years ago, Jan. 12, 2011.
The former Bordentown residents have since formed the Army Spc. Benjamin G. Moore/Hope Hose-Humane Co. No. 1 Memorial Trust Fund and remain active in Bordentown, raising money to reward others who resemble Ben and have his same passion for serving the community.
“We’re proud of what we’re doing,” Pat said. “We had a choice, and we knew it from the beginning, to either lay down and die along with him, or to raise his name up the best we can, and do something positive and help somebody along the way.”
Helping others was what Ben spent most of his time doing before he left for Afghanistan.
As a child, he would roam the Bordentown City streets and make it his business to learn about what city workers did and how they did it.
“He’d go wherever they were working,” said Amy, who noted he’d follow garbage truck drivers, street sweepers, road repairmen and other workers around town. “The guy’s digging a hole in the street—Ben’s sitting at the side of the hole talking to the guy.”
When he was 14—the year of the 9/11 attacks—Ben decided he wanted to be a firefighter. For the next two years, he anxiously awaited his 16th birthday, when he’d be permitted to start taking firefighter training classes at the Emergency Services Training Center in Westampton. Though he couldn’t start training yet, he’d still spend time at Hope Hose, helping out and sweeping the floors.
From a young age, Ben was caring, kind and compassionate, Amy said. He was the one his friends—especially girls—would go to when they needed a good listener.
When Ben was still a student himself, he spoke to his Bordentown Regional High School class and counseled students after a classmate who died after being hit by a car. At 18, Ben was a first responder at the scene and had begun to administer CPR on her.
After Ben graduated high school in 2006, he and his family moved to Amy’s childhood home in Robbinsville, where Amy and Pat still live.
After his graduation, Ben bounced around between a handful of firehouses and odd jobs. Pat tried convincing him to take some courses at community college, but Ben refused, saying he would either go to a full-time college and live on campus or he wouldn’t go to school at all.
Ben had wanted to be a police officer or a professional firefighter, and eventually he sent out a few applications in search of a position. He’d even gotten one reply from a company that was interested in meeting him, but by that time Ben was already away at boot camp.
He left for boot camp in April 2009, and just over a year later was deployed to Afghanistan in May 2010. After eight months, he came home in December for leave. The January 2011 snowstorms delayed his return to Afghanistan for a week, but he finally arrived back overseas Jan. 10. He was killed on his first mission back, along with two others, by an improvised explosive device while clearing the roadways for U.S. troops in Ghazni Province.
When Ben’s personal effects were sent home, the Moore family learned Ben had had his Hope Hose fireman’s badge in his pocket when he was killed. The family also learned how he’d spent his night before that mission. Ben had finished writing his best man speech he’d planned to read at his older brother Pat’s wedding, scheduled for later that year. He’d saved the speech on his computer.
Ben’s brother never replaced him with a new best man. Instead, another relative read Ben’s speech at the wedding.
It wasn’t until after Ben’s death that Amy and Pat realized the number of lives Ben had touched in his 23 years. Nearly 1,600 names were signed in the funeral guestbook, and the outpouring of support from thousands of individuals was overwhelming, Pat said.
The Moores learned of individual experiences Ben had had as an EMT, the times he witnessed a life ending and the times he helped to revive a life. They heard stories of Ben’s arrival at an accident on the Turnpike when a baby died in his arms and other situations when he’d struggled to revive senior citizens. And yet another time, Ben had even helped deliver a baby.
“We were proud that God gave him to us for those 23 years,” Amy said. “You know, when he was alive and living, he was just our son. We loved him on a personal level, but to other people he was so much more than that.”
It opened up the Moores’ eyes to the idea of giving back the way Ben had, and the fundraising began soon after. The Moores had requested donations to Hope Hose in lieu of flowers for Ben’s funeral, which resulted in more than $5,000 in donations.
It was then that Pat and Amy decided it was time to give back. A concert and auction event in the spring began the process, though Pat and Amy were not in charge of organizing it.
They founded the Memorial Trust Fund as a way to give back to individuals who get involved for the good of the community, the same way Ben did. Amy and Pat sit on the board of directors with three other members: Vincent J. Torpey, Brian A. Maugeri and Nancy J. Magueri.
Fundraising activities have ranged from concerts and auction events to simply accepting donations. Every October, they can be seen at the annual Cranberry Festival, among other events, selling $10 raffle tickets for a chance to win a weeklong vacation in Myrtle Beach.
The Moores now present nine annuals awards to students in the Bordentown community.
Two awards are presented to one male and one female student at Bordentown Regional High School who resemble Ben or plan to get involved in service work, which includes the fields of firefighting, EMT, police and/or military.
Five awards are presented at the Emergency Services Training Center, two of which go to EMT students and three which go to firefighting students. The awards are given to the most improved students, not the best students.
The last two awards are given to members of Hope Hose—one firefighter and one EMT—who have volunteered the most duty crews in a year’s time.
The fundraising efforts amount to enough to give $500 to each recipient. While it may not be a hefty sum of money, the Moores hope it is enough to show their thanks.
“It’s really more a token of appreciaton,” Pat said. “It’s just $500, [to] maybe take your family out to dinner, put gas in your car.”
“It’s just really saying thank you.”
The Moores hope that moving forward, they’ll continue to raise even more money. Plans are in the works for their 2013 fundraising endeavors, including talk of a possible poker run, though nothing was set in stone as of press time.
Amy said they have their sights set on one day raising money for a therapy bike for veterans. With a cost valued at about $8,000, it’s a lofty goal, but the couple hopes a growing amount of fundraising will eventually make it possible. They hope to label the bike with a plaque of Ben’s name.
The fundraising efforts are part of a bigger picture, too, Pat said—they’re a way to pay tribute to the military itself, to the men and women who volunteer and make sure the rest of American civilians can go about their daily business.
“I didn’t (see the bigger picture). He did,” Pat said. “You walk around with blinders sometimes. I’m kinda selfish most of the time, but he was the kind of guy that just wanted good for everybody else.”
“The more money we raise, the more we can give back,” Amy said.
Life has continued to move on for the Moores as what they call the “new normal,” and they carry Ben’s memory with them every step of the way.
On Dec. 14, 2012, Amy and Pat became grandparents for the first time when their older son Pat and his wife Marissa gave birth to their first child, Lucas Benjamin Moore.
Pat and Amy remain active in the Bordentown community. Pat still works in the maintenance department for the Bordentown Regional School District, where he’s been employed for nearly 16 years.
Pat and Amy are determined to keep giving back as much as they can. For more information about the Memorial Trust Fund and how to donate, email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org