East Meadow street dedicated to local man who died in Vietnam

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Lancaster Street in East Meadow now has a new name. The street was dedicated Saturday to East Meadow resident John G. Glassey, who was killed while serving his country in Vietnam on April 15, 1969, at age 20.

Residents, friends and family members were joined by town dignitaries, Commander Pete Wenninger of the East Meadow American Legion Post 1082, the legion’s color guard and the Patriot Guard Riders to unveil the new street sign. Members of the PGR, a national nonprofit, attend funerals and memorials for members of the U.S. military and first responders.

“Many neighbors who knew John still live right here on Lancaster Street,” Town Supervisor Don Clavin said. “In fact, his neighbors were the driving force behind this very ceremony today. We received so many letters and emails from so many people for this renaming. It’s a real testament to the memory that you all want for this young man.”

Glassey, who grew up on Lancaster Street, was a U.S. Army specialist 4 who was drafted through selective service on Dec. 13, 1968. He was with the light weapons infantry. Glassey was killed at Patrol Base Diamond III near the Cambodian border.

The dedication ceremony included a presentation of colors, singing of the national anthem by Mike Sweeney and recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The Rev. Robert Holz, of St. Raphael’s Church in East Meadow, led the opening prayer.

“By dedicating this street to the memory of U.S. Army specialist 4 John G. Glassey, we ensure that his legacy will be with us forever,” Clavin said, “especially in this community that he loved.”

Wenninger, who is also a member of the PGR and a naval veteran, spoke of the importance of honoring veterans, especially those who served in Vietnam.

“We come to help dedicate this memorial to the memory of SP4 John G. Glassey who gave all in service of our country,” Wenninger said. “From this day forward may this street be known as John G . Glassey memorial street so that the generations to come can learn of his sacrifice. We are blessed today to enjoy the freedoms we have thanks to people like John Glassey.”

Wayne Cohen, senior ride captain for PGR’s Region 8, presented Glassey’s family with a plaque honoring his military service.

“We are here today for specialist 4 John G. Glassey and we are not going to let him be forgotten,” Hempstead Councilman Dennis Dunne said. “It’s an honor to be here today to salute the hero right here in the community of East Meadow. John’s heroism nearly 50 years ago will never be forgotten.”

Dunne also served in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine. “I understand the sacrifice of serving our country,” he said. “It means leaving your family, your friends, your neighbors, leaving your community and everything you know that is safe and comforting. It means putting yourself in harm’s way to protect and defend others knowing that you might not return home.”

Clavin and Dunne presented Richard Glassey, John’s brother, who still lives in East Meadow, with a commemorative sign identical to the one that was unveiled.

“I look around here and this was our block, the home that we loved,” Richard said. “It means a lot to me to see my neighbors, my friends and people I grew up with here today. Thank you all for coming.”

Glassey, an East Meadow High School 1967 graduate, enjoyed playing Little League for St. Raphael’s Parish in East Meadow. His first job was as a newspaper carrier for Newsday, and he also worked at the Waldbaum’s that was once on Front Street.

“John was a kid that was popular and very athletic and he had so many friends and we did everything on the block,” Richard said. “It was an honor to have this dedication.”

The process for the street naming began two years ago, but because of Covid-19, it was halted.  Friend and neighbor Tim Langan played an integral role in getting the dedication sign.

“I grew up knowing Richard and John and their whole family,” Langan said. “I was 12 when he died and I really felt it. Two years ago, Richie and I joined forces to really get this to happen.”

The number of people who gathered for the street naming was touching, Richard said. “My friends and neighbors are here,” he said. “People I don’t know are here and of course my kids and grandkids. It’s the most important thing in the world for me.”

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