Documenting local and global history


A little-known memorial in Atlantic Beach and a historic Five Towns landmark could be part of a national project to catalog military veterans monuments to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the American Legion in two years.

National commander Charles Schmidt is asking all local posts to take part in a nationwide project to catalog all the monuments dedicated to military veterans. “I have little doubt we will find some of these memorials needing a bit of maintenance and renovation,” Schmidt wrote in a letter to all post. “I also have no doubt that the community will learn a bit more about its history, and the cost and sacrifice made by local citizens in defending our country.”

Chartered by Congress in 1919, the American Legion has grown from a group of World War I veterans to one of the more influential nonprofit organizations across the globe, with a membership of more than 2.4 million in 14,000 posts worldwide. The posts are organized into 55 departments: one each for the 50 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and the Philippines.

In the Five Towns, there is the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Post 339. Commander Syd Mandelbaum invited officials from the local school districts, schools and community groups to the post’s meeting last Sunday at the Lawrence Yacht & Country Club in Lawrence to discuss how they could be involved.

“I know of no better way to excite our neighborhoods than with a project that contributes to our country by this call to action by our national commander,” said Mandelbaum, a Cedarhurst resident, who called this type of activity “quiet patriotism.”

He said that most American Legions, and even Veterans of Foreign War posts, most likely know where the veterans monuments are in their communities. Mandelbaum said that this is the first national project to put together a database that documents all these military memorials. Villages and schools in the Five Towns and surrounding communities such as Atlantic Beach and the Town of Hempstead will be included to help ensure that all local monuments are cataloged, he said.

There is a memorial in the Village of Atlantic Beach that has not been included in veterans ceremonies, Mandelbaum said, who also noted Rock Hall Museum, which includes the grounds and the 18th century plantation house built by Joseph Smith. Later on it was purchased by the Hewlett family, and then turned into a town museum.

Museum Director Linda Barreira said that Rock Hall does not have military memorials, but played a small role in the Revolutionary War and during the Civil War was visited by an iconic photographer.

“The Revolutionary War was huge, Rock Hall was occupied by the Patriots airing January 1776 for a few weeks,” she said. “Civil War photographer Mathew Brady took photos of the Hewlett ladies playing crochet in 1865.”

Lawrence and Hewlett-Woodmere school districts and Lawrence students attended the breakfast, along with Nassau County American Legion Commander Frank Neil and Hempstead town historian Tom Saltzman. Lawrence Woodmere Academy will also take part.

To get involved contact Mandelbaum at (516) 295-0670 or