Nearly 2 1⁄2 years after a young Flushing man gave his life serving his adopted country, the city has responded with a permanent memorial.
Some 100 people turned out at the corner of 45th Avenue and Kissena Boulevard on a cold Saturday morning to see 45th Avenue renamed for Marine Cpl. Julian Ramon, who was killed while serving in Iraq.
Former Marines in the crowd shouted “oo−rah” as the paper sheath was pulled down to reveal the sign. But the crowd, including members of the National Gold Star Mothers, New York Military Youth Cadets and Patriot Guard motorcycle club also teared up along with Ramon’s mother, Yolanda, when she spoke.
“I’m very happy, but at the same time there is a lot of pain,” she said through an interpreter Saturday. “My son was my life. He was the light of my life and he knows I will never stop loving him.”
Ramon’s brother, Sebastian, said Julian made sacrifices to support his family.
“He always looked after us,” he said. “He cared for us, he looked out for us. He just loved us.”
Julian Ramon moved with his family to Flushing from Colombia when he was 4. He grew up in the apartment building on the corner and graduated from John Bowne High School before enlisting in the Marine Corps.
He served one term in Iraq and volunteered for a second. On July 20, 2006, he was killed when he stepped on an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Anbar Province. He was 22.
City Councilman John Liu (D−Flushing) called Julian Ramon “an American hero and a son of Flushing.”
“This street rename will ensure that 50 years from now, when a young person walks by this corner, they’ll look up, see this sign and wonder who he was, and people on this street will be able to tell the story,” Liu said.
Chuck Wade, a neighbor who planted a tree in front of the building in Ramon’s honor, fondly remembered the young man who lived upstairs from him.
“I watched him grow up,” he said, recalling seeing Julian Ramon occasionally while he was teaching at John Bowne HS. “He would peer into my classroom with those wide eyes and say nothing. I knew he was always vigilant, ever watchful.”
Julian Roman’s family was grateful for the memorial, though Ramon’s other brother, Juan David, said he thought Julian would be embarrassed by the ceremony and turnout. But Juan David was free to be proud.
“It’s a very good feeling,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier.”
Sebastian Ramon said neither he nor his little brother have plans to join the military. Instead, he is studying nutrition and exercise at LaGuardia Community College and Juan David is studying criminology at John Jay College.
“My brother’s expectation was for us to do something with our lives,” Sebastian Ramon said. “He would want both of us to finish school.”
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.
©2008 Community News Group
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