"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.