Jaida Ciampi wins Echoes of Freedom contest


Glen Cove High School Class of 2024’s salutatorian Jaida C. Ciampi, 17, won the Echoes of Freedom essay contest, created by the Glen Cove Public Library and the city’s Veteran Affairs Office.
Jaida read her essay, a response to “Why is the Pledge of Allegiance Important?” at Morgan Memorial Park on May 26 for an audience that included city officials, her mother Victoria and residents who had gathered to honor veterans who have died, as well as active-duty, reserve, and National Guard members.
“The Pledge of Allegiance is a glorious balance of patriotism and a show of America’s unity amidst diversity,” she read. “It is not a dull recitation that students should forcibly stand for or dreadfully murmur. Rather, it’s a verbalized promise that their education will instill them with just principles, a sign of respect toward veterans, and a reflection of their unification, despite ethnic background, religion, race, sex, or gender.”
Jaida was interested in participating in the contest, she said, because it gave her the opportunity to pay tribute to her ancestors who fought for this county’s freedom, especially her grandfather Joseph Ciampi.
“My own grandfather had his leg blown to bits in Vietnam,” she said. “My great-uncle has described the horrors of Vietnam, of tunnels so narrow, dark and cramped that their lungs barely had room to expand.”

Jaida referred to the flag as “an umbrella for patriotism,” a “symbol of freedom and justice,” a “symbol of respect towards our veterans and every American that has contributed towards peace and equality.”
“The sight of the flag of the United States has given assurance to individuals through times of war and peace that our democracy lives, that our nation has the power to protect liberties that form the foundation of our inclusive society,” she read.
Victoria Ciampi, Jaida’s mother, was visibly moved when her daughter read her winning essay. “When I heard that she won,” Victoria recalled, “I was overwhelmed with pride and joy, because I knew that I always get touched by her words. Other people saw that and see how she’s able to bring everyone together and just express herself in that way. We all feel what she feels.”
Jaida was praised for her expertise. “I am very happy with the winner,” said Tony Jimenez, the city’s Veteran Affairs Office’s director. “This is something special in that it shows that kids are interested in the flag, in America and the values of America. What we are trying to portray is having the younger generations speak on it, having the younger people involved in their country’s pride.”
Lydia Wen, a librarian from Glen Cove Public Library, who was one of the judges made the same observation. She said the essay contest left her with hope in future generations.
“What is most memorable about working with the students,” Wen said, “is discovering their enormous respect and gratitude for our veterans.”
She added that she remains committed to educating students “about the sacrifices made by veterans, raising awareness about veteran affairs, encouraging critical thinking about patriotism, and inspiring civic engagement.”
Jaida Ciampi is heading to Duke University to study biology on the pre-med track. She would like to become a pediatric surgeon.
Her dream for the United States is simple — for people to stand for something together beyond the differences.