View Full Version : Iraq-war widow gets baby shower from strangers in Hialeah

08-12-03, 05:48 AM
Posted on Mon, Aug. 11, 2003

Iraq-war widow gets baby shower from strangers in Hialeah
Associated Press

HIALEAH, Fla. - Scores of people she had never met threw their collective arms around the widow of the first South Floridian killed in the war in Iraq.

Liudmila Gonzalez cried at her baby shower Sunday as a community of kind strangers gave her hundreds of gifts. She lost her husband, Marine Cpl. Armando Ariel Gonzalez, 25, in the spring, when she was in her first trimester. He called her April 14. Hours later, he was dead, crushed under a collapsed military refueling tank.

She still has the folded sonogram printout that was stuffed in her husband's wallet. She still reads the letters he never mailed home.

On Sunday, Gonzalez walked into the Goodlet Adult Center in Hialeah and was greeted by a standing ovation from about 200 people, most of whom were elderly women she didn't know.

"I didn't expect anything like this. I am so grateful," Gonzalez, 25 said. "I have no words to explain how I feel."

Gonzalez, now seven-months-pregnant, walked from table to table, hugging the women. About 80 from the center had worked for months to prepare, knitting clothes for an unborn baby girl and making decorations.

Mayor Raul Martinez pushed for the city to sponsor the shower. Many of the volunteers are on fixed incomes, but they refused to let the city pay for anything but the catered food.

"It doesn't matter if I know her or not," said Isabel Hernandez, 60. "It's enough to know how she became a widow and that her husband served this country."

Gonzalez said her husband was so excited about the baby that he took the sonogram with him to Iraq, showing it to his buddies in Marine Wing Support Squadron 273. It was in his wallet when he died.

The couple had not chosen a name yet when he left. But Gonzalez has picked one close to that of her fallen husband's, a Cuban rafter who came to the United States in 1994. In honor of Armando Ariel Gonzalez's unborn daughter, elderly women in his adopted hometown displayed hand-printed signs: "Welcome Baby Amanda."


Information from: The Miami Herald, http://www.herald.com