COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Brave young Americans joined the Armed Forces 100 years ago as America became involved in World War I. Among those were more than 200,000 Ohioans who answered the call, the 4th largest number of servicemen of all the states.
Homer Lawson from Fayette County, Ohio was one of the 6,500 Ohio soldiers gave up their lives for our freedom. Today, there’s a building named in Lawson’s honor, but a lot of people in town had no idea who he was.
Lawson was born in Washington Court House. He later became a “Harlem Hell Fighter,” a member of the 369th, who died on the battlefields of France as a hero.
For years, his name has graced the American Legion Post, but most people in town were not aware of his significance.
“I would drive past that building before and I didn’t recognize it or knew what I was for at all,” said Washington High School sophmore Mackenzie Schaffer.
Paul Larue is a retired history teacher and part of the Ohio World War I Centennial Commission that’s responsible for World War I teaching instruction used at Washington High.
“In some ways, its kind of sad and ironic the French government in some ways recognized them more than they were in their own country,” Larue said. “The time of World War I, not a single African-American was a recipient of the Medal of Honor, and their stories were known.”
Members of the integrated Homer Lawson American Legion Post never had a picture of the posts’ namesake until Paul Larue completed his research.
Lawson now rests in the peaceful pastures of the Veterans section of Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus