Died serving her country
Her life of promise gone
Dreams die in Iraq for heroic daughter of Bx.
BY MAKI BECKER
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
The Marines initially had trouble finding Valdez's family, which moved from the Bronx to Reading, Pa., in March.
"Our [former] neighbors called and they said, 'There are some Marines looking for you,'" said her heartbroken sister, Fiorela Valdez.
The uniformed officers arrived at the family's new home Friday morning to report that Valdez had been involved in an incident and that her status was unknown, the sister said.
"As soon as my mother saw them, she just collapsed," Fiorela Valdez said.
Two days later, the Marines returned to deliver the terrible news that Ramona Valdez was dead.
Daily News columnist Michael Daly interviewed her former coworkers at Liberty Island, where she worked before joining the Marines
"Very alive, upbeat," Johnson said. "Always positive. Even when she was frustrated, she smiled. A beautiful person."
Valdez had been a student at Jane Addams High School when she started her first job, on the front line at the Statue of Liberty food concession in 2000. She worked weekends during the school year, full time in the summer and after she graduated. She put in 40-hour weeks, four 10-hour shifts, adding what she earned to her mother's wages as a home attendant.
Like her co-workers, Valdez wore a green visor, green-and-white striped shirt and gray pants. She made this the uniform of an ambassador who inspired goodwill in visitors from around the globe.
"They come from all parts of the world and they're not used to New York," Johnson said. "They're very closed. We have to change their mind, get them to smile, open up a bit."
A tourist who asked Valdez for a hot dog or ice cream would get a smile and maybe a little joke as well. Any number of visitors returned home thinking a little better of New York and America
posted by Steve @ 11:10:00 AM