Courtney Lawrence: First Fallen From Medina

"No single event in the war has brought the terrible realities of the struggle so closely to home to the people of Medina or stirred their feelings to such depth. The young man is spoken of everywhere as possessing an admirable character and his passing is felt as a personal loss by everyone whether known to him or not." -Medina Gazette April 12, 1918

Death, sorrow, tragedy, and despair; emotions no one wants to feel, especially not all at once. For Courtney Lawrence emotions meant nothing, as long as he could accomplish his goal. His goal to fight for and secure the United States. Although sorrow, tragedy, and despair never took a toll on Courtney, it did take a toll on his loved ones and the sufferers from war. Courtney was blinded by the pursuit of stability and freedom for his country, and ended up losing his life to the first world war.

In 1917 the United States was called to join World War 1 in response to the growth in imperialism and alliances of their surrounding countries. However it took the tragic death of U.S. Soldier Courtney Lawrence on April 5, 1918 for the war to become a reality for the people living in Medina, Ohio. Like many of our fallen heroes, Courtney Lawrence had the desire to fight for his country and its freedom. So much so that he died in order to preserve the unity and security of the nation.

During the years between 1877 and 1920 the United States was rapidly progressing in its industry. The quick rate and enormity of industrialization summoned many people to participate and jump on the industrial bandwagon. Simultaneously, the Great Migration had started in 1910 bringing in even more people to contribute to the United State’s growth in industry. Among the people brought in through industrialization and during the Great Migration was Courtney Lawrence’s brother Charles. Charles and Courtney were both born in Cornwall, England and by the time Courtney was 2 years old in 1895, his brother immigrated to the United States to become a stone cutter. The freedom, opportunity, and flourishing economy of the United States drew Charles to leave Cornwall and his family behind. Cornwall had been a source of granite for structural engineering and a bustling center of copper and tin mining, However at the end of the 19th century Cornwall’s economy had faltered, prompting Charles to leave for a better life and the ability to grow.

Seeing the same opportunity in the booming and bustling country, Courtney followed in the path of his brother and arrived to Medina, Ohio in 1913. However what Courtney saw was not the ability for growth and business, but rather the chance to fight for a country that provides understanding and freedom for its citizens. Following his departure from England, Courtney signed a declaration of intent to become a U.S. citizen in April of 1917. Living in Medina, Courtney got to experience what exactly it meant to be living in the land of the free. He knew then in May of 1917 that he had to embrace the home of the brave and fight for the security of the United States. It had only been one month of life in the U.S. for Courtney to understand and appreciate how precious and how unified the country was. The nation’s decision to break away from its isolationist practice and put the unity of the country at stake was Courtney’s call to action. Hearing the call and disturbance of the nation Courtney, a Cornish born young man who had only been a citizen for a month enlisted in the United States Army in May of 1917 to fight in World War One.

Courtney, just shy of his 24th birthday left Medina to battle in France. He battled vigorously with the intention to preserve the stability of the United States and return to Medina knowing he did all he could to protect his country. All Courtney wanted to do was give back to the country what he had received when he left England. However war shows no mercy, war doesn't know how young you are, why you're fighting, how you got there, what side you're on, all war knows is to win you must take lives. So, on April 1, 1918 Courtney was wounded by a shell fragment in France and died a few days from the wounds. The news hits Medina via telegram and a Medina Gazette article was released stating “Medina County has given its first life on the battlefield during the world war”. Medina had been sheltered for so long during the war, because no one from Medina had ever lost their life to war. The tragedy associated with the loss of a soldier had never hit home, until Courtney’s death brought their attention to the fragileness and brutality of war. Medina was shocked and saddened at the death of Courtney, and the magnitude of war being brought to their attention. The people of Medina would never again take their comfort for granted, so much so that the Medina Board of trade quickly drew up a resolution to “hold and cherish his memory through all time” and “as further evidence of the depth and sincerity of these sentiments, be it noted the American Legion post in Median is named the Courtney Lawrence Post.”

The fall of any war hero is tragic, and strikes a chord in the hearts affected by it. Courtney’s life will forever be remembered as the first fallen from Medina. The first to sacrifice his life for others around him, and as his name lives on in Medina, so does the bravery and heroism of every soldier to fall before or after him.

Images

Medina American Legion Post 202 Plaque

Medina American Legion Post 202 Plaque

A memorial plaque was dedicated to the memory of Courtney Lawrence at the Medina American Legion Post 202. The plaque is one of many ways Medina still remembers Courtney today. There is also a memorial stone for Courtney on North Broadway Street outside of the Veterans Hall of Medina County, and the Courtney Lawrence Home Co. is a group of trustees from the veterans' groups that use the hall. Additionally in 1918 following Courtney's death, the Medina Gazette declared the American Legion post in Medina to be named the Courtney Lawrence Post. Then on January 1, 1920 Courtney was awarded the Citation Star for Gallantry in Action by the First Division's General Orders No.1 (Image Courtesy of the Medina Gazette) View File Details Page

The Grave of Courtney Lawrence

The Grave of Courtney Lawrence

Pictured is the gravestone for Courtney Lawrence in Spring Grove Cemetery. Although his memory and body is buried here in Medina, Courtney's family and birthplace was all the way in Cornwall, England. Courtney was brought to the U.S. during the Great Migration to join his brother, a stone cutter named Charles, here in Medina. His time in Medina was short, Courtney enlisted in the Army a month after receiving citizenship. Following his enlistment in the Army, Courtney was deployed to France where he was wounded and killed just shy of his 24th birthday. His grave is situated in Spring Grove Cemetery, and his memory is instilled in our hearts. (Image courtesy of the Manley Family Archive) View File Details Page

Portrait of Courtney Lawrence

Portrait of Courtney Lawrence

Courtney Lawrence was born in Cornwall, England in the year 1893. He was born three years after the U.S.'s period of isolationism, in which the country decided to remain "neutral" in global issues. However in the event of World War One, the U.S. could not remain neutral, and many lost their lives to solve the global issues. The U.S.'s break from isolationism allowed Courtney to enlist in the army and fight for the nation's security, however it also led to his death. The death of Courtney Lawrence was the 1st life to be lost in World War One. He is forever ingrained in the memories of Medina, and will be honored and remembered throughout time. (Image courtesy of the Medina Gazette) View File Details Page

Entrance to Spring Grove Cemetery

Entrance to Spring Grove Cemetery

Upon entering Spring Grove Cemetery, there are many memorials and graves for Medina's fallen war heroes. Though they have fallen, we see their stones and remember their fight and bravery. We remember how important it is to be grateful for our country and those who have fought for it. Courtney Lawrence, and the many other soldiers who died with him lie with honor in Spring Grove Cemetery. They lie with the gratitude and sorrow of those who were there to see them fall and to be affected by their death. It is important that soldiers such as Courtney are remembered today so we never forget what they have done for us. (Image Courtesy of the Manley Family Archive) View File Details Page

Medina Gazette Article May 24, 2014

Medina Gazette Article May 24, 2014

On May 24, 2014 Nancy Johnson helped preserve the memory of Courtney Lawrence and others who have fallen to war in an article she wrote for Memorial Day Weekend. Her article speaks specifically on the story of Courtney and his early life and death. Through his story we learn how important it is to remember our veterans and the significance they have on our life and history. By honoring Courtney we remember all war heroes, not just in World War One. In the audio clips above Nancy elaborates on Courtney's story and the importance of remembering the people who have died in our country. (Image courtesy of the Manley Family Archive) View File Details Page

Audio

The importance of History

If we remember history, and understand its significance we can learn from our mistakes and prevent future conflict. Nancy Johnson states that remembering history and the people that have died is important to the stability of our country. View File Details Page

Remembering our Soldiers

Courtney's name and story is ingrained in the history of Medina. Nancy Johnson describes how remembering him allows us to remember all of the soldiers' sacrifice for our country. She states that Courtney's effect on history and the lives of many is contribution to the war. View File Details Page

Courtney's fight for our country

Nancy Johnson, former reporter for the Medina Gazette, believes it is important for us to remember the story of Courtney Lawrence, and preserve his story throughout time. View File Details Page

Why soldiers chose to fight in War.

Nancy Johnson former reporter for the Medina Gazette told the story of Courtney Lawrence in an article she wrote. In this clip Nancy describes the "patriotic surge" young men had to contribute to the war effort. She elaborates on the need for unity in the U.S. and the drive of young men to obtain that unity for their country View File Details Page

The war is brought to Medina's attention

Medina had been sheltered for so long from the cruelty of war. No one from Medina had lost their life to the the first world war, so there was no experience with the sorrow that war had brought. In this clip and in an article written by former Medina Gazette reporter Nancy Johnson describes that feeling and the aftermath in Medina. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Jessica Manley, “Courtney Lawrence: First Fallen From Medina,” Discover Medina, accessed July 24, 2017, http://discovermedina.org/items/show/289.

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