This is about the heart of a warrior that is beating in the body of a brave, 13 year old stage 4 cancer survivor, and the hearts of soldiers to both join him in his battle, and honor him when he won. In this era of “The Battle of the Bathroom,” it is refreshing to be told a story of soldiers and families coming together to defeat a vicious global enemy, the “Big C.”
This past Monday, 20 soldiers marched in formation through the neighborhood of Christian Lopez, who lives in Dorchester, Massachusetts. They were in parade formation, sounding out the distinctive cadence songs of their unit, the sight and sound of them crying out, “That’s the way we do it here now” bringing people out of their houses. That included Chris, who was completely surprised. Led by Christian’s aunt, Mariana Shorter, herself a retired MSG (Master Sergeant), they marched straight up to his door, carrying a parade style banner which said, “It Came, We Fought, I Won.”
Through tears, his aunt said, “I want to thank Chris for fighting one of the biggest battles ever in life. You are a true, true soldier.” Then each one marched up to Chris, saluted him, and either shook his hand, or hugged him. As if that wasn’t enough, they presented him with his own set of ABUs, the Army name for the uniform worn in combat. Then they gave him his several patches, the indication of being part of a unit, and the proof of having survived a war.
Shorter got the ok to honor her nephew from the General commanding the recruitment command in Boston, who had deeply personal reasons for getting behind the ceremony. The General has a 15 year old grandson in the hospital, and the boy is fighting a brain tumor. Shedding his own tears, the General said, “This has given my family hope.”
In an interview with ABC news, MSG Shorter said, “My family thinks I’m the hero because I fought wars, but the real hero is my sister and my nephew,” Shorter told ABC News today. “All I did was to honor his mother’s wishes. I want this story to be about my courageous sister.”
Apparently the Mayor of Boston also expressed his own ability to honor Chris and his family by declaring that day “Christian Lopez Day.”
His mother, Christina Ribeiro, had her own take on her young warrior son. “He is the only child I’ve seen who after chemo and radiation wants to go outside and play baseball. Nothing kept him down. He never gave up.” Chris is in remission, and is full of dreams. He is certainly interested in “all things soldier,” and is thinking about being an astronaut. Then again, he might choose to be a chef, we shall see. He also wants to be on the Ellen de Generes show, and hopefully his story will go far and wide, and encourage many, because parents, kids, family and friends need hope.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner