Family and friends of U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Joseph Theinert gathered around Cartwright Road Circle on Route 114 in Shelter Island Thursday afternoon to witness a 1.4-mile section of the highway become renamed in the fallen soldier's name.
The ceremony honored the service, sacrifice and memory of the 24-year-old Shelter Island native, who was the first serviceman from the island to be killed in combat since the Vietnam War, when he died on June 4 while on foot patrol in Afghanistan.
Though brief, the service was emotional and dignified. Sen. Ken LaValle presented a temporary sign from the Department of Transportation that read "Lt. Joseph J. Theinert Memorial Way" to James Theinert and Chrystyna Kestler, Lt. Theinert's father and mother, brother Jim Theinert and several other family members.
"We always say, we shall not forget one of our own," Sen. LaValle said. "And with today's ceremony, we are doing exactly that."
Assemblyman Marc Alessi, who helped pass the bill to rename the roadway, said that the bill was probably the most important one he's ever passed.
"I'm truly honored to have played such a small role in this," he said.
Shelter Island Supervisor Jim Dougherty thanked the crowd of people for taking the time to honor Lt. Theinert and for helping the family though the deveastating loss of a young loved one.
"We will soon forget whatever is said today and whatever little action we take here today," he said. "But but we will never, never, never forget and will forever hold in our hearts and in our memories the unhesitating courage of Lt. Joseph Theinert and the sacrifice he showed on June 4 of this year."