The New England Patriots kicked off their 2021 season Sunday afternoon at home in Foxboro, Massachusetts. While all the focus was on rookie quarterback Mac Jones in his NFL debut, the team made sure to honor a local hero first.
A moment of silence was held prior to the start of the game, and a picture of Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo was displayed on Gillette Stadium's end zone video board, alongside the words, "In Memory of Johanny Rosario, United States Marine Sgt."
Lawrence police shared an image on Twitter, thanking the Patriots for honoring their hometown hero.
Lawrence native Rosario Pichardo was killed in a suicide bombing on Aug. 26 near the Kabul airport where people were being evacuated amid the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Her body was returned home Saturday in a solemn procession through Massachusetts on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that led to America’s longest war.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Kim Janey and U.S. Sen. Edward Markey were among the dignitaries on hand at Boston’s Logan International Airport to pay their respects to her family as they gathered around her flag-draped casket.
In Rosario Pichardo’s hometown of Lawrence, people lined highway overpasses and streets waving American flags as the vehicle procession made its way through the city near the New Hampshire state line to the Farrah Funeral Home.
“We will never forget her name,” Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez said afterward. “We are proud to have her home.”
The 25-year-old served with the Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade. She and other Marines were killed as they were helping to screen Afghans and others at the gate of the Kabul airport. They were all awarded the Purple Heart last week.
A funeral Mass will be held Monday morning at St. Mary’s of the Assumption Church for Rosario Pichardo’s family and other invited guests.
On Tuesday, there will be a public wake at Veterans Memorial Stadium next to Lawrence High School, where Rosario Pichardo graduated. She’ll be laid to rest at Bellevue Cemetery in a section reserved for military veterans.
The Associated Press contributed to this report