Queens street named after Newtown victim

Queens street named after Newtown victim

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Family, friends and legislative leaders from Sunnyside, Queens celebrated the life of a 6-year-old boy, who once lived there, who died in the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

Benjamin Wheeler died alongside 19 other innocent children when Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary with a gun last December and started shooting. Ben loved swimming, the Beatles, soccer and -- perhaps most of all -- the 7 train that serves the Sunnyside, Queens neighborhood where he was born.

Saturday, local leaders named a street across from that train in Ben's honor.

"Congressman Crowley said [to me]: 'Maybe we could name the subway station after Benjamin Wheeler,'" City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer recalled. "And I said: 'That's a great idea. I support it 100 percent, but the MTA can be a little funny about things sometime.'"

So instead, those leaders settled on a street sign. Ben's older brother Nate did the unveiling while his mother watched and his father, David, compared the family's departed first-grader to luminaries whose names oversee other Queens streets.

"Ben didn't serve in the Second World War and help liberate a concentration camp and live to be 100," David said. "Ben was 6. He had just learned how to tie his shoes. That was his major accomplishment and, frankly, he hadn't really perfected that either."

That mix of humor and sadness pervaded much of the hour-long ceremony. A U.S. congressman sang Ben's favorite song ("Here Comes the Sun") and those who knew the boy reflected on his smarts, curiosity and compassion.

"We took the train together," family friend Tom Kelly said, "and Ben sat next to me and curled himself up in my arms. I think that might be the last time I saw him."

The family whose son called Sunnyside home for barely a year thanked the community and asked that Benjamin Wheeler Place point out not only where passers-by are now, but also where they can go in the future.

"You quite literally have kept us standing," David said to the community members in attendance.

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