LAWRENCE – On Tuesday afternoon, Heather Langlois’ mother cried as she watched the funeral of the slain Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario.
Afterwards, she told Langlois that she should do one of his portraits.
“She said this mom looked like she could really use it right now,” Langlois said.
So, using her medium of choice – colored pencils – Artistic Director of Public Schools Lawrence created a colorful portrait of Rosario, 25, who was killed on August 26 by suicide bombers in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Langlois wants to deliver the portrait to Rosario’s grieving mother as soon as possible and was attempting to connect with her this week.
The portrait shows a smiling young Marine standing in front of an American flag.
“What impressed me the most is that this kid is the epitome of bravery and selflessness in helping women and children,” Langlois said.
Langlois has worked in Lawrence Public Schools for the past 22 years. She’s not sure if her path has ever crossed with Rosario, a 2014 graduate from Lawrence High School.
Still, she considers Rosario, who is also referred to as Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, as a “local hero” and a success story for local schools.
“It is unfortunate the circumstances that followed,” she said.
An eight-year Navy veteran, Rosario volunteered for a deployment to Afghanistan. It was tracking women and children leaving the Middle Eastern country, which was back under Taliban control after 20 years of US military engagement.
Thousands of people have paid homage to Rosario since September 11, when his body was returned to Lawrence in a dignified procession. Crowds gathered in the streets as Marines, police, firefighters and area officials escorted his remains from Boston’s Logan Airport, past Lawrence, then to the Farrah on Lawrence Funeral Home. Street.
She was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart, a military decoration given to those injured or killed in service.
On Tuesday, a public vigil for Rosario was held at the Veterans Memorial Stadium. Subsequently, there was a military funeral service at Bellevue Cemetery where Rosario was buried in the veterans section.
Langlois sadly said there have already been half a dozen occasions when she created portraits when a friend or relative lost a loved one.
She hopes that her work will bring Rosario’s mother “a little comfort”.
“It reminds her of her heroic daughter and the huge impact she has had. … That she was not only serving her country, but the selflessness she had to help women and children, ”Langlois said.
A colleague also suggested that the portrait should be copied and displayed in all of Lawrence’s schools so that Rosario’s “drive and determination” is never forgotten, Langlois said.
Follow reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.