EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

July 11, 2008

City begins tribute to fallen soldier today with half-staff salute

LAWRENCE — American flags fly at half staff on municipal buildings throughout the city today in honor of the late Army Sgt. Alex Jimenez.

It is the first of several tributes that are expected to be made by the city which yesterday ended a 14-month vigil of hope and prayers for the soldier's safe return from the hands of terrorists who kidnapped him in Iraq.

After learning that Jimenez's family had been notified yesterday that the body of their son had been found and identified, Mayor Michael Sullivan and other Lawrence officials began discussing ways to honor Jimenez.

"The Department of Public Works ultimately will take care of all the flagpoles throughout the city," Veterans Services Director Francisco Urena said last night.

"Right after City Hall opens and workers get to work, the flags will be lowered. The governor will do a release so the flags go down statewide. But we will start the initiative. The flags will remain at half staff until further word is given by the governor," he said.

Urena planned to meet today with Sullivan to decide what steps the city can take to pay homage to its hero and assist the family. Those discussions include preliminary arrangements for a possible funeral with full military honors here in Lawrence and burial in one of the cemeteries.

There is also talk of a possible monument or memorial, similar to tributes which have been bestowed upon other Lawrencians who have died while serving their country dating back to the Civil War.

"There is talk of a possible burial in the city and a possible wake in the city. It's really up to both parents to decide that," said Urena, noting that Jimenez's father Andy planned to head to Queens, N.Y., today to be with the dead soldier's mother, Maria Duran. They will decide the final resting place for their son, who could be buried in the veterans' lot at the Bellevue Cemetery or in St. Mary's Cemetery, which might be more preferable because of the family's Catholic faith.

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