Educating the city’s youth on veteran histories


In recognition of the city’s veterans, the Glen Cove Public Library and the Veterans Services Department are continuing their Glen Cove Salutes program, giving the community an opportunity to sponsor military tribute banners that will be displayed on lampposts across Morgan Park from Memorial Day through Veterans Day. They are also expanding the program to incorporate a commemorative website and an essay contest for middle and high school aged children who are Glen Cove residents. 

Lydia Wen Rodgers, a librarian at Glen Cove Public Library and Anthony Jimenez, the director of the Veterans Affairs Office, presented the tribute banners at the City Council’s pre-council meeting on Feb 2021. 

“It will give them the honor that they deserve,” Wen Rodgers said. 

When she started the program last year, she learned quickly that veterans are humble and are hesitant to have their photos on display. But she is going forward anyway to be sure they are honored. 

Fifty-two banners were sold last year. Because of the project’s success, 92 banners will be available this year. The price will remain the same — $99 for a banner placed before March 1. The banners, purchased by families, is available only to sponsor Glen Cove veterans.  

City historian Dave Nieri purchased banners for his father, Dante R. Nieri, who served in the Navy. He purchased a second banner for his father-in-law George Melchione who served in the Army Air Corps. 

Author Gloria Respress-Churchwell, wrote the children’s book, “Follow Chester,” detailing the life of Dr. Chester Pierce, a 1944 graduate of Glen Cove High School, the class president and valedictorian. He studied at Harvard Medical School and played on the football team and was the first Black college athlete to play south of the Mason-Dixon line when Harvard visited the University of Virginia. Pierce was a commander in the Navy, surgeon general of the Air Force and a psychiatrist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for 25 years.

Respress-Churchwell was eager to contribute to the banner project given her detailed understanding of Pierce’s life. 

When the banner project started last year, Wen Rodgers didn’t know how popular it would be or where they could be placed. At the time, she decided to position the banners at the lower portion of the park. 

In addition to this project, a supplemental online exhibit was created to recognize veterans outside their respective holidays. 

“If family or friends don’t want to repeat buying a banner, we have an online presence for them,” Wen Rodgers said. 

Project coordinators asked the families and friends of veterans to write a reflection or provide more pictures. So far, there are nine submissions, including one from Niri. The site has been up since Memorial Day and was directly created by Wen Rodgers and the Veterans Affairs Office.

“We wanted to make the project a little bit better,” Wen Rodgers said. “So this coming year we will be working with schools and have two essay contests.”

The first contest is the Liberties Torch titled “Lessons I Learned from a Veteran.” This contest is available to six through eighth grade students who reside in Glen Cove, but do not have to attend the city’s schools.  

Respress-Churchwell said she hopes children learn that there are many sacrifices that were and are made by veterans.  

“We’re standing here because of those who helped to lift us up and the veterans have to get their due in that,” she said. 

“Echoes of Freedom,” the second contest, asks students what it means to serve your country. This contest is available for students grades nine through 12. The deadline for contests is April 30 with a price of $250 each. 

“I hope they understand the level of commitment that people have made.” Niri said. “I encourage anything like this which gets people to understand what people did in the past to serve their country or serve their community because we need to reinvigorate those ideas.” 

For more information and to pick up a submission form for the contests, applicants should email