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Jacob's Light In the News
(Republished from Newsday.com with permission)
A birthday honor for fallen LI son
BY BILL BLEYER
Newsday Staff Writer
November 26, 2006
On what would have been Army Spc. Jacob S. Fletcher's 32nd birthday, officials yesterday dedicated the Babylon Post Office in honor of the soldier killed three years ago in Iraq.
Getting approval to place a plaque commemorating Fletcher in the lobby of the village post office - located half a block from his childhood home - required a year and legislation sponsored by Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer and Reps. Peter King and Steve Israel.
More than 300 people attended the ceremony held in the parking lot, including Fletcher's loved ones, military personnel, veterans and even Civil War re-enactors. The Postal Service issued a commemorative envelope with a special postal cancellation for the day.
Fletcher was injured by a roadside bomb Nov. 13, 2003, and died the next day. The member of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, was a 1994 Babylon High School graduate who enlisted after 9/11.
Fletcher's dress uniform coat, topped by his maroon beret, and his portrait flanked the podium yesterday. His 13-year-old brother, Josh, led the Pledge of Allegiance.
His mother, Dorine Kenney, fought back tears before the ceremony.
"It's huge," she said of the dedication. "I'm looking at the house I raised him in. He grew up in this town and it really means a lot. It's a bittersweet thing. Today is his 32nd birthday. It's emotional, but I feel the government has honored my son with this."
King (R-Seaford), who gave Kenney, of Bay Shore, and her ex-husband, Moe Fletcher, of Island Park, framed copies of the bill approving the dedication, said, "People like Jacob Fletcher personify what America should be."
Navy Chief Petty Officer Jason McLaughlin, Fletcher's cousin, noted that Fletcher's grandfather, great-uncle, father and stepfather had all been in the military.
"The call to duty is a powerful thing," he said. "When people walk through these halls and see this testament and ask 'Who is Jacob Fletcher?' you'll be able to tell them that he was somebody who answered the call of duty in the country's time of need."
Sgt. Joseph Pratt, of Oklahoma, who served with Fletcher, said, "He was a guy I could go to. He was a good man. Fletcher was one of the guys you wanted to have in your squad ... not only because he would do his job ... but he could make you laugh and help make the time pass. He always had something good to say."
King also praised Fletcher's parents.
"Each in their own way has taken a horrible, tragic experience and turned it into something positive - Dorine with the work she does in raising money for food and clothes for those in Iraq, Moe for always being there for families who suffer losses in Iraq."
After Fletcher's death, his mother began to collect food and supplies for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The first box went out 11 days after my son was killed," Kenney said.
The effort evolved into Jacob's Light Foundation (jacobsprogram.org), with Kenney as president. She said the foundation has shipped 72,500 pounds of supplies overseas.