NEW YORK -- There was a special tribute Saturday for a Bronx soldier killed in the line of duty.
For Manuel Moreno, watching that sign unveil was like feeling his brother's soul.
"It was like he was here," Moreno said. "We're all really proud, really proud of him."
In the middle of Fordham Road and the Grand Concourse, his family, friends and officials gathered to honor and celebrate Private Luis Moreno's life and sacrifice.
"Luis was a great friend, brother and son. He always had great advice at his young age, and for that reason and many more, we all loved to be around him," one speaker said.
Moreno was just 19 years old when he was shot and killed in Iraq in 2004, the youngest New Yorker to die in Baghdad.
His niece, Malery Moreno, didn't have a chance to meet her uncle.
"The fact that he passed away a year before I was born just hits home," she said.
As much as it hurts, the stories about him make her laugh. Her uncle was born in the Dominican Republic. He was driven, passionate and wanted to be a police officer.
"He died doing what he loved. Even though he was never able to become a police officer, he still died fighting and doing what he wanted to do," Malery Moreno said.
Mayor Eric Adams attended Saturday's ceremony, bringing some comfort to the family.
"The loss is real and it's traumatizing, but it should be a moment of reflection to lift up the fact that we are sitting under the tree of freedom that he watered with his blood," the mayor said.
Indeed, in the end, it was freedom that he fought for to allow all of those who loved him and those didn't even know him to live and laugh.
His 12-year-old nephew, who proudly shares his uncle's name, plans to follow in his footsteps.
"He worked in the Army, he fought in the war, he was a hard-working man. He may have been young, but he was very sentimental," he said.
When Malery comes to this corner, it's going to be different. She knows her brave uncle will always be here.
"Anytime I come around here, I won't say I'm going to Grand Concourse and Fordham, I'm gonna say I'm going to his street," she said.
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