Fallen Hornell Hero Honored
HORNELL-- [WENY] The Hornell Post Office breaks from policy to allow a fallen Marine's name on the outside of a branch building.
The post office finally bears the name of Lance Corporal Zach Smith, killed in action three years ago.
Federal regulations prevented Smith's name on the outside of the building, but strong support and some money from the community, along with help from some politicians, made today possible.
Lance Corporal Zach Smith is sorely missed, and his family, the community, and local leaders came together to honor his courage and ultimate sacrifice.
"You guys all mean a ton to my family and without all of you this hell that we live in would be unbearable," said Chris Smith, Father.
It's been a tough three years for the Smith family.
"It's the first post office in the United States to have anybody's name on it and it's my son, said Chris Smith. "It's it's hard to explain how proud you are of a boy that for 19 years was your little boy and all of a sudden he wants to join the marines and wants to be in the infantry and he wants to go over to Afghanistan and fight for his country and he did all that."
Until today, The only marker of Zach's memory was a plaque on this inside of the lobby due to federal regulations.
But, responding to pressure from Congressman Tom Reed and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the post office reversed its decision and allowed the fallen Marine's name on the outside of the building.
"I cant believe it almost took an act of congress a literal act of congress to get this done and get Zach's name forever enshrined on the post office here like it is today," said Rep. Tom Reed.
"These things are good and this is permanent and this is great, but it still hurts to know that we had to go through some ceremonies and dedications it brings the real reason, you know, why?" said Kim Smith, mother.
Zach left behind a wife and two siblings as well.
Chris says the Post Office means a lot to him.
"Well it means that every time I have a handful of letters, I,m just gonna do them one at a time so I can come here day in and day out I'm here all the time it's just beautiful to go by and see it on the outside."
Chris said the letters on the sign were donated, and the Smith family paid for installation-- but that wasn't an issue thanks to a supportive community.