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Great War heroes - Videos tell stories of Lawrence men who died in World War I

by Paul Tennant, Eagle Tribune

Just more than 100 years ago, an estimated 5,500 Lawrence men fought in World War I, called at that time the Great War.

About 200 of them died on the battlefield or in hospitals. Thirty-six of them have bridges, parks, playgrounds and squares named for them.

City Councilor Marc Laplante did extensive research and put together videos about these 36 Lawrence soldiers who never came home. Many of them are buried in France.

One of the Lawrence soldiers who did not return, Pvt. Paul Lorenz, was an immigrant from Germany. He was drafted into the Army and sent overseas to fight his own countrymen.

Lorenz was killed in action Sept. 28, 1918, near Binarville, France. He fought in the massive Meuse-Argonne offensive. His story is narrated by former City Councilor Jay Dowd.

Paul Lorenz Park in the Prospect Hill section of Lawrence is named for this soldier. Lorenz sought exemption from the Army, saying he had "weak eyes," according to the research of Laplante and others. Nevertheless, he was drafted and sent overseas. 

The O'Connell South Common is named for Philip O'Connell, another Lawrence soldier who lost his life at an early age. O’Connell was a surgical assistant in the 39th Infantry, 4th Division. He was killed in action Aug. 1, 1918.

O'Connell was born in Lawrence in 1887. He lived at 166 Bailey St. and graduated from Lawrence High School in 1904. He then graduated from Boston College and wrote for The Lawrence Telegram before serving in the Army.

He is buried in France. His story is narrated by Sue Fink, project manager for the rehabilitation of O'Connell South Common.

Laplante recruited dozens of narrators to tell the stories of the soldiers who lost their lives. Gov. Charlie Baker narrated the story of Henry Mann, who served in the 103rd Field Artillery.

The small bridge that carries Route 114 over the South Canal is named for him.

Other narrators include Mayor Daniel Rivera, former Mayor Michael Sullivan, City Council

President Kendrys Vasquez and City Councilors David Abdoo and Pavel Payano.


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