Conner Lowry left the South Side a man, but returned home a hero who gave his life to something bigger than himself.
Hundreds of well-wishers, high school students and schoolchildren lined the streets of Oak Lawn, Evergreen Park and Mt. Greenwood, to watch the fallen Marine’s homecoming to the Beverly neighborhood that he loved and where he had grown up as a boy.
Watch the video of CPL. LOWRY's motorcade.
Lowry, 24, died during combat operations in Afghanistan on March 1, just four months shy of returning home to Chicago.
Lowry’s body arrived early Friday morning at Midway Airport, where a motorcade bearing his casket made the sad trek down Cicero Avenue, escorted by a motorcycle contingent from the Illinois Patriot Guard.
The motorcade wound its way through Oak Lawn and Evergreen Park, past children in their parochial school uniforms clutching American flags before pausing in front of Brother Rice High School, from where Lowry graduated in 2006.
Lining 99th Streets were students from Lowry’s alma mater and Mother McAuley High School. Students excited at first to be released from class streamed back into their respective schools after the motorcade passed by, stunned into silence by the solemnity of the occasion and Lowry’s death in the full bloom of youth.
SEE THE PHOTO GALLERY of Friday's motorcade procession for CPL. LOWRY.
Following the hearse from Heeney-Laughlin Funeral Home in Evergreen Park were black limousines carrying members of Lowry’s family. Some of them waved at the well-wishers gathered curbside in a show of love and support.
A group of marines, sailors and soldiers stood at attention at Pulaski Road and 99th Street, saluting the hearse carrying the young marine’s casket until the final Patriot Guard rider rode by.
The motorcade proceeded up 99th Street before turning south on Central Park Avenue, toward its final destination at St. John Fisher Church in Beverly, where a wake was to be held for Lowry Friday evening. A 10 a.m. Mass is planned for Saturday.
A Marine honor guard will remain with their fallen brother until his burial at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Alsip.
Lowry’s mother, Modie Lavin, told the Chicago Tribune that her son wanted nothing more than to return to “South Side, Irish Catholic Chicago” when his deployment ended in Afghanistan so he could become a Chicago firefighter.
On Friday, Lowry’s neighbors gave him a hero’s welcome; all of them desperately wishing that he could have returned home a man.