As he was preparing to devise his Eagle Scout project, John Blazich, Jr., 17, of Glen Cove’s Boy Scout Troop 6, knew he wanted to do something for either the local veteran’s community or the parishioners at the St. Rocco’s Church. After some of his initial ideas were turned down, Blazich spoke to Glen Cove Veterans Council President Fred Nielsen and City Councilwoman Pamela Panzenbeck, who gave Blazich the idea to move the veterans memorial in St. Rocco’s Church to a more prominent location alongside the Madonna Center in the courtyard.
“It’s being put in a place where everyone can see it and appreciate it and not hidden away,” Nielsen said.
The current memorial exists as six plaques attached to the church wall, naming the more than 500 parishioners of St. Rocco’s Church who served overseas during World War II. Blazich’s plan would remove the chain link fence separating the church’s courtyard and side yard, replacing it with a cement block wall, with stones similar to the ones on the church. The plaques would be installed on the new wall.
While working on the project, John Jr. and his father, John Blazich Sr., the scoutmaster of Troop 6, learned a lot about the history of the memorial. While residents knew that the plaques honored veterans, it was never entirely clear what war they fought in as the plaques never revealed any hints. After they discovered that the plaques were made for those who went off to fight in World War II in 1943, John Sr. said that an odd phenomenon occurred after all six plaques were finished. One morning, he said, parishioners found that the old wooden crucifix atop the church had “miraculously made a 90-degree turn to face the plaques.”
“All the families took it as a sign that their loved ones were being watched over during the war,” John Sr. said.
John Jr. is currently working on the fundraising portion of the project. Through donations and a car wash event, he has raised about half of the $5,000 needed to complete the project. His fellow scout, Genalie Prezeau hopes to get approval for his own Eagle Scout project to create a star-shaped walkway for veterans to safely access the memorial at the First Presbyterian Church of Glen Cove. The scouts said that their projects were a way for them to give back to those who served their nation.
“It’s the best way to honor them, the parishioners who made the community what it is today,” John Jr. said.
John Jr. will host a spaghetti dinner fundraiser at St. Rocco’s Church on Oct. 12. He hopes to complete his project in time for Veterans Day on Nov. 11.