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Family starts petition to rename Abilene ISD school in honor of fallen soldier



An Abilene family is pushing Abilene ISD to rename Lee Elementary after a Cooper High graduate who was killed while serving in the Middle East.

Sgt. Reuben Marcus Fernandez enlisted in the Army shortly after graduating and wanted to make an impact.

“He wanted to know how he could help you first. And then in turn, he was going to ask for nothing,” said Ruben DeLaGarza, Fernandez’s cousin.

Fernandez was killed on October 11, 2008 in Iraq.

He was 22-years-old.

“You knew it was always possible because we knew where he was, and we knew the risks involved,” said DeLaGarza. “But we never thought it would affect our family and we never thought it would hit home.”

Last month, Abilene ISD announced they would consider changing the names of four elementary schools named after Confederate soldiers.

“It has nothing to do with politics, it has nothing to do with race.” said DeLaGarza. “It has nothing to do with anything else other than the fact that this is a local hero, who should have his name put on that building.”

DeLaGarza believes having his cousin’s name on the front of the school Fernandez attended would be extremely special.

“I can’t even put a value on that,” said an emotional DeLaGarza. “It’s that that would just mean the world to us.”

By renaming Lee Elementary after Fernandez, his family believes students could learn his story and treat him as a role model.

“It’s our job to keep him alive in our hearts, and to make sure that this community doesn’t ever ever forget who he was, what he stood for, and ultimately what he died for,” said DeLaGarza.

KTXS reached out to Abilene ISD about the petition.

“The Abilene ISD school board – which has the ultimate decision regarding this issue – welcomes all points of view in this discussion,” said the district. “The conversation regarding policy surrounding school names will continue at our Aug. 6 workshop and again at the regular meeting on Aug. 10.”