Senior Connections Senior Connections Dec. 2018 - Page 3

A condolence letter from Lawrence’s friend, Norman, to Lawrence’s sister, Ruth July 7, 1919 Dear Miss Peterson: It affords me much pride in being the fortunate one who has the privilege to write a few lines of your heroic and worthy broth- er Lawrence, while he was answering his country’s call for the sake of de- mocracy. I was so fortunate as to form the ac- quaintance of your departed brother at Camp Dodge. He and Mr. Runquist were nearly always together. Your brother was a very good soldier for he was so willing and quick to learn. In a very short time he had a big circle of the best boys as his friends. He was on the whole a little quiet and reserved. After we were transferred to Camp Severi, he was placed in the best com- pany of the regiment, namely Co. I, 118 Inf., and I was transferred to the medical department which had charge of the sick or wounded of the 3d Bn., including Co. I. I cannot recall a single instance, either in the US, or in France, when your stalwart brother was sick. He was one of that kind of men, but was always on the job fi rst and last to leave. While in Camp Severi, I noticed that he carried a little khaki Testament and it looked like it was used often by the owner. In France and Belgium when we had open air religious meetings Lawrence was there. I honestly believe Lawrence was trying to be right with God, if he wasn’t so always. I remember distinctly when work I thought it would be right to do the same for my grandmother Dora’s brother (Lawrence). No fam- ily is in Knapp, and the grave wasn’t decorated like the World War II veterans.” That Lawrence’s relatives know where his grave is located, is primarily due to Olson’s brother, Lieutenant Colonel Lance Olson’s research. “My brother did a lot of research and got infor- mation from the Minnesota Historical Society,” Olson stated. “At one time, we were confused and thought he was buried in France, or went down on a ship.” “Lance tells me my grandmother’s mother did not like to discuss Lawrence and his gravesite be- cause it was diffi cult for her,” Olson stated. “and also, there was not a conventional burial for him due to the delay.” Eventually, Lawrence’s gravesite was traced to a small cemetery near the North Crow River Lu- theran Church, about six miles north of Cokato. was brought back from the front lines that Mr. Peterson was killed. It fi lled me with sadness, for he was the fi rst of a close friend killed on the terri- ble Hindenburg line, over the hidden Quentin canal. We had just moved into the front trenches the night before. About daylight, the Germans must have found out we were there, for they opened a terrible artillery fi re on all our trenches and area. I think that it was almost 8 o’clock that Lawrence was killed by a big shell that burst close to him while he was on duty watching if the Germans were com- ing over. He died the death of a genu- ine hero, on the toughest battle fi eld in France, namely on the Hindenburg line just west of Bellicourt. Did he think of and remember those at home? Many times did he show me pictures of the loved ones at home, of whom he seemed to be very proud. When the mail was distributed, he was always there looking for his letter, and when he got it, there was a smile on his face of happiness. I am sure that you miss him very, very much in your home ties, and will you kindly accept my heartfelt sympathy for the bereave- ment of a dear brother who was a close friend to me. And now, may He, whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and His ways than our ways comfort and con- sole you in your bereavement. –Norman O. Nelson, 707 Grove Street, DesMoines, IA. Following Lawrence’s memorial, Olson ex- plained his rationale for making it happen. In ad- dition to his great uncle, Olson’s grandfather also served in WWI, and he made it home alive. “I have always been moved that my grandfather, a simple farmer from Albion, and fi rst generation Swedish American, served,” Olson said. “I have been in the Army since I graduated high school in 1988, fi rst at West Point, then active duty, and then reserves. I have always felt a duty to do my part and follow his example. “My brother, Lance Olson, is also a LTC in the Army Reserves. Thank goodness my grandfather lived through it, or I wouldn’t be here. My grandmother’s brother wasn’t as fortunate, and wasn’t able to return and farm and have a fam- ily and descendants. So, I really thought it was im- portant that 100 years later, we remember,” Olson said. Never forgotten Sept. 23 dawned warm and sunny. It was the day the church congregation and mem- bers of Lawrence’s family delivered a me- morial service. Following the worship service, Olson talked about Lawrence and his family dur- ing the congregants’ coffee time. Then, the group went to Lawrence’s grave. Olson gave a speech. His son, Cart- er, 13, read the poem, “In Flanders Fields.” Lawrence’s nephew, Paul Johnson, placed fl owers on the grace. Taps was played. One day prior to the 100- year anniver- sary of his death, Lawrence Peterson was honored by generations of family and sev- eral church members, for his service and sacrifi ce for the US. World War I casualty, Lawrence Peterson’s family deco- rated his gravesite 100 years after his death. SUBMITTED PHOTO SUBMISSIONS Among those honoring Lawrence Peterson at a recent memo- rial were his great-great-nephew Carter Olson, great-nephew Lieutenant Colonel Joel Anderson, and nephew Paul Johnson, each played a role in the memorial service for Uncle Lawrence. Senior Connections welcomes submitted items of any kind that may be appropriate for our readership. Contact us at SUBMITTED PHOTO Why it matters Senior Connections HJ.COM Senior Connections December 2018 3