On East Cottage, a Soldier's Tribute; April 1 Ceremony Will Mark Londono's Legacy
Diana Londono is going to college.
The Fontbonne Academy senior is heading to Bay State College next year to study physical therapy and, at an accepted students' workshop recently was filling out a sample class schedule when she spotted her mother, Iwona, crying a few feet away.
"Don't cry," Diana told her. "I'm going to be living at home, how bad could it be?"
For the Londonos, it's been no easy road. Their son and brother, Daniel, was killed outside Baghdad last March 13 when an explosive hit his Humvee. He was a 23-year-old sergeant in the U.S. Army.
On Friday, April 1, the intersection of East Cottage St. and Dawes St., less than a block from his family's home, will officially be renamed for Londono, on what would have been his 24th birthday.
The sign hangs already, but the family is looking forward to the ceremony that will honor the first Dorchester soldier known to have been killed in action since the Vietnam War.
"I want my son to be remembered, and I think it'll be nice that it'll be on his birthday," said Iwona, a Polish immigrant who works at a flower store in Quincy.
"I think it's good because it's in the neighborhood, and it's right by our house," said Diana, adding that "tons of family and friends" will attend.
Also scheduled to appear are Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Eugene Vaillancourt, the city's commissioner of veterans services.
And backers of Beacon Hill legislation are hoping the event will build support for a proposal that would award full higher education scholarships to siblings of soldiers killed or severely disabled in action - furthering the current laws that offered such scholarships to spouses and children.
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Jack Hart, would apply to the brothers and sisters of Massachusetts servicemen and servicewomen who became casualties after September 11, 2001.
Hart has said he hopes the bill will become law this year, and bear Londono's name.
And Diana Londono thinks it's a good idea.
"We need to change the way it is right now," she said. "If he had kids or a wife they'd get his benefits, but he still deserves it."
Ed Crowley has been spearheading the ceremony's organization. With a son, Craig, currently serving in Iraq, he said he feels for Mrs. Londono.
"The biggest thing with her is she wants her son remembered," Crowley said.