The mural to honor SGT. JOHANNY ROSARIO PICHARDO, USMC
Veterans Memorial Stadium • 240 Osgood Street • Lawrence, Massachusetts, 01843
This 7' x 35' Mural under the Press Box of the Veterans Memorial Stadium in Lawrence MA was dedicated to the memory of local Lawrence hero, Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, USMC on August 19, 2022.
The piece was originated by the Merrimack Valley Community Service Corps (MVCSC) under the direction of Guy Terry Kelley III, with support from the Lawrence Mayor's Office, The Mass Cultural Council, and the Veterans Association. It was designed and illustrated by local artist and Americorps Senior volunteer, Leslie Alfred McGrath.
Sgt. Pichardo was a local child of Lawrence, MA, killed while helping to evacuate women and children from Afghanistan on August 26, 2021. She was only 25 years old and yet her selfless life of honor and service, to her family, to her community, and to her country, easily fills the 35 ft wall of this stadium.
Mural Panel 1 • Family
Panel One depicts elements of Sgt. Pichardo's early life.
She was born March 15, 1996 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. She was a proud first generation American. This panel shows the flags of the countries of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic from where her ancestors immigrated. It shows her as a baby on her Christening day surrounded by her favorite pink cherry blossom flowers. The center photo shows her in her Marine uniform with her mother and siblings on her younger sister's high school graduation day.
Her mother recalled her as a creative child who enjoyed drawing and making things for people. She loved her family and every stray animal. She said it was her nature to be giving and concerned with her family's happiness. She was also very protective of her siblings and took a leadership role in her family when needed to navigate and interpret cultural and language barriers.
Mural Panel 2 • Community
Panel Two shows Sgt Pichardo during her high school days in Lawrence..
She was a member of the Lawrence High School Lancer Brigade, ROTC. She volunteered at the local church food pantry. where she earned the nickname "Marine" because she told everyone there how she planned to serve in the Marine Corps after graduation.
She shares this panel with two other Lawrence native heroes, who were casualties of Operation Iraqi Freedom. They are Staff Sgt. Alex R. Jimenez and Sgt. Pierre A. Raymond.
She graduated from Lawrence High School in 2014.
in 2015, Pichardo joined the Marines and served as a Supply Chief for the Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
Mural Panel 3 & 4 • Service
Panel Three and Four shows Sgt. Pichardo during her mission in Afghanistan in August of 2021. Culturally, the Afghanistan evacuation of women and children required the delicate matter of their search before passing the gate be conducted by women. Pichardo and another female sergeant (Nicole L Gee) had volunteered for the job. In the days before the tragic suicide bomb detonated she literally held many lives in her hands and assisted in the evacuation of more than 124,000 people. She was quoted as saying. "They need me sir," as she ran to help a group of women and children being crushed in a pack of people at the gate just before she was killed.
Marine First Lt. John Coppola said about Sgt. Picharcho in a statement, " Her service was not only crucial to evacuating thousands of women and children, but epitomizes what it means to be a Marine: putting herself in danger for the protection of American values so that others might enjoy them."
At the time of her death, Sgt. Pichardo had just completed her college Degree in Human Services from Columbia College, where she was included on the Dean's list. Pichardo's mother, Colasa, and sister, Rosie, accepted her degree posthumously on her behalf at the commencement ceremony on April 30, 2022.
Mural Panel 5
The final panel shows each of the US service members who were also killed by the suicide bomber at Kabul Airport on August 26, 2021.
Each will posthumously receive Congress' highest honor, the Congressional Gold Medal.
I spent most of Memorial Day Weekend 2022 moved to tears as I looked in the eyes of these fallen soldiers while drawing their portraits for this memorial. It's a mournful exercise in facing many tragic losses, because you can't look away. It feels like a conversation with each of them. I invite everyone who looks at this mural to do the same. Look at their youth, their innocence, their conviction, their true patriotism and their total sincerity in serving their constitutional oath. Listen carefully to them beg us to work to preserve the ideals they died for. Listen to them plead that we work for peace.