By Yadira Betances
---- — LAWRENCE — Army Sgt. Alex Jimenez gave his life for his country and city, and now Lawrence wants to remember him forever.
The bridge recently built on Canal Street will be named in honor of Jimenez, a Lawrence resident who was killed six years ago in military action in Iraq.
Jimenez went missing in action on May 12, 2007, when he was captured in an ambush west of Mahmudiyah, Iraq. Spc. Byron Fouty of Waterford, Mich., and Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr. of Torrance, Calif., also were captured. Anzack’s body was recovered from the Euphrates River.
They were among three members of the 2nd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division captured by terrorists during an ambush south of Baghdad. The remains of Jimenez and Fouty were recovered July 8, 2008, west of Jurf As Sukhr in Iraq.
Jimenez was 25.
“I’d always hoped Alex would come back safe to have a homecoming, but we were not so lucky,’’ said Andy Jimenez, Alex’s father. “You’re never prepared to lose a loved one, especially a son.’’
The City Council voted unanimously on Sept. 19 to name the bridge for Alex Jimenez. Council President Frank Moran brought the idea to the council after he was approached by several veterans.
“That bridge is perfect because it’s one of the gateway entrances to the city and every time residents and visitors drive by, it will allow us to remember Alex for his ultimate sacrifice in defending our country and our freedom,” Moran said.
When Moran presented the proposal to his fellow councilors, he included research on Jimenez and presented a biography on the solder’s life. The proposal was then debated at a subcommittee meeting, which Andy Jimenez attended. After a public hearing to see if residents had any objections, the council finally approved the memorial.
“This is the least we could do,’’ Moran said.
Jimenez was not the only Lawrence resident to die in Iraq. Army Sgt. Pierre Raymond was killed eight years ago in a mortar blast while serving in Ramadi, Iraq.
Andy Jimenez, who has lived in Lawrence since 1987, became teary eyed when he learned the council had approved the project.
“I’m happy they’re going to name the bridge after Alex,” he said. “His name will remain etched in time long after we’re gone.”
During the agonizing 14 months his son was missing in action, Andy Jimenez said he found strength through his faith and the support of local residents who held weekly vigils to pray for Alex’s return.
“There were a lot of cities and towns who came together, but Lawrence was phenomenal,’’ Andy Jimenez said. “I’ve always said Lawrence is a small city with a big heart.’’
Councilor at Large Dan Rivera and District F Councilor Marc LaPlante praised Moran for suggesting naming the bridge in honor of Jimenez.
“I think it’s awesome,” Rivera said. “Alex is so close to our hearts. This is what we are supposed to do.’’
Moran said he is being helped by veterans in planning the memorial plaque and ceremony, which will be held in November.
“We’re still working on ideas, including what details to put on the plaque such as who he was, where he served,’’ Moran said. “He was a hero to all of us.’’