By Kristina Rex

LAWRENCE (CBS) – A small token — a red Solo cup, crinkled in the hands of Laura Alefantis on a bridge over Rt. 495 Friday night. She took the cup, squeezed it, and stuck it in a hole in the fence over the highway.

“We’re here to do what we can to honor her and welcome her home,” Alefantis explained.

READ MORE: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments

She’s talking about Marine Sergeant Johanny Rosario Pichardo, who was killed in the terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, just days before the end of the War on Terror.

Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo. (Image credit Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade)

When Alefantis and her friend and colleague Dawna Mackland-Rivera take a step back, they see what the Solo cups have become: an American flag in the fence overlooking the highway, with two black ribbons underneath.

READ MORE: Northeast Metro Tech Football Player Seriously Injured During Saturday Game

The “flags” are in the fences of two bridges in Lawrence overlooking the highway where Sgt. Rosario’s body will be processed on Saturday, the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Rosario’s remains will return to her home city of Lawrence.

Laura Alefantis (WBZ-TV)

“Honestly my heart fell for the family automatically,” Lawrence native and veterans’ service worker Dawna Mackland-Rivera said. “To have to go through that and to lose somebody that you love…” her voice trailed off as she became emotional. “Words can’t explain it,” Alefantis said.

“You always think it’s somebody else’s community, somebody else’s state, somebody else’s family. You never realize it’s going to hit you so close to home,” Alefantis added.

MORE NEWS: Longtime Watertown Grocery Store Russo’s Officially Closes

Alefantis and Rivera hope their small act — putting those flags over the highway — will remind people of the anniversary of 9/11 and properly bring Sgt. Rosario home.

Kristina Rex