If you think of my son Conner Lowry in the future, please recall him as a mirror image of the Beverly community that helped shape him: generous, humorous, playful and passionate.

He was killed in action in Afghanistan on March 1, and Conner Lowry’s legacy begins now and will be nurtured by you, my fellow community members. My wish in Conner’s memory is for the core strength of this community to continue its resolve to nurture all the Conner Lowrys who will continue to call Beverly their home as they enter the world to make it a better place.

The other Conner Lowrys will go forth with different names and not meet untimely deaths. And in line with my wish, they will exhibit the heart, soul and character unique to our brilliant community.

In my grief, the world swirled. Lost in my walking nightmare were the gestures and actions I know were there to support all the Lavins, Whealans and Lowrys and all of Conner’s friends. What I couldn’t see through the haze, I could feel in my heart.

You, the community members, need to hear what visitors to our neighborhood expressed as they witnessed—for the first time—an unparalleled outpouring of concern so intense it lined the streets, enveloped our hearts and soothed our souls.

“When I retire from the service, I am moving right here to Beverly,” said one young man.

Others agreed.

Please, my fellow community members, absorb the compliment, and accept from me and my family our thanks and gratitude for lifting us up in our time of greatest need.

There is great peril and flaw in attempting to thank everyone who reached out. Listing those who deserve thanks remains a daunting task because someone will be left out. Please know that the hug in the grocery store is likely as meaningful as the flowers from far-away places; there’s no weighing one over another.

That said, I will attempt to thank and recognize those who I can remember. You others, please know, you are in our hearts and forever linked in our sweet memories of Conner.

Thanks to the masses who donned the “Conner’s Parade” T-shirts.

Special appreciation from all of us goes to Mike Heeney and Heeney-Laughlin Funeral Home, the U.S. Marine Corps, the Patriot Guard, the Windy City Veterans, all the coordination efforts of Vietnam veteran Neil Maas, the St. John Fisher parish, church and family, the Chicago Police Marine Corps League and its thoughtful donation of $25,000 to the Br. Rice High School Scholarship Fund in Conner’s name, the Br. Rice community, the gracious and classy members of the Chicago media, the Moran Family, Mother McAuley High School, Beth O’Rourke and Marathon Sportswear, the South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, Conner’s Washtenaw Family and The Rhino Bar.

Lastly, I’d like to thank Sgt. Jacob Harrer of the 1st Marine Division for his touching insight found in his article about Conner at the Web site at dvidshub.net.