Lowry honored with memorial

by Caroline Connors
The late Cpl. Conner T. Lowry was memorialized in Beverly on March 1 with the dedication of a bronze sculpture and an honorary street in his name.

The ceremony took place at Beverly Park, 103rd Street and Maplewood Avenue, Lowry’s old stomping grounds, family members said, on the one-year anniversary of his death. Lowry, 24, a 2006 graduate of Br. Rice High School, was killed in action March 1, 2012, while serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan.

Coordinated by the office of 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea, the ceremony included a number of officials from the city of Chicago, including O’Shea, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Jose Santiago, Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO Mike Kelly, 14th Ward Ald. Ed Burke, 11th Ward Ald. James Balcer and Office of Emergency Management and Communications Director Gary Schenkel.
Also in attendance were dozens of Lowry’s family members and friends and hundreds of schoolchildren from St. John Fisher Elementary School, Lowry’s alma mater.

The ceremony began just after 9 a.m. with the unveiling of a street sign on the northeast corner of 103rd Street and Maplewood Avenue dedicating the 10200 block of South Maplewood Avenue as Honorary Cpl. Conner Lowry Way. The Rev. John McNalis, a chaplain for the Chicago Fire Department and a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, offered a prayer for Lowry, his family and the U.S. Marine Corps.

As the street sign was unveiled from its covering, Lowry’s sister, Grace Lavin, provided an unintentional moment of levity when she accidentally snapped the cord that was designed to release the covering from the sign. Laughing, she was lifted on the shoulders of several men in attendance to successfully accomplish the task.

The group then walked across the field at Beverly Park to an area outside the park field house for the dedication of a bronze sculpture made up of a rifle, boots, helmet and dog tags. Known as a fallen soldier battle cross, the memorial was sculpted by CFD firefighter and paramedic John Alaniz, who also contributed pieces to the firefighter memorial at King-Lockhart Park at 106th Street and Western Avenue. The sculpture is mounted on a granite base with an inscription that honors Lowry and “all our U.S. armed forces who serve in war and peace.”

In their remarks, O’Shea, Kelly and Emanuel remembered Lowry as both fun loving and courageous and offered the memorial as an everlasting symbol of his life and the ultimate sacrifice that he made. Emanuel thanked Lowry’s family for sharing the dedication of the monument with the community and the city.
“Thank you for letting us have a little piece of this moment to share with you,” Emanuel said, “not to just be by your side, but to share with your family and remember what Conner was about and what he asked, not just of himself, but of all of us.”

Lavin concluded the dedication by thanking those present and the community at large for the support given to her family over the past year as its members continue to cope with the loss of Lowry’s life.

“We couldn’t have done it without you.”