Memorial Day 2013: Remembering Lawrence 'Turk' Condon

My father's uncle, Sgt. Lawrence Condon, died of shrapnel wounds in France two months before the Armistice ending World War I, "The War to End All Wars." His division, the U.S. Army's 27th, was known as "O'Ryan's Roughnecks." He was third generation American. One of his grandfathers was an Irwin, reputedly from Ballyjamesduff, in County Cavan, while his father, John Henry Condon, was a warehouse manager, who moved his family from Manhattan's gritty Upper West Side to the new homes carved from the farm fields of Morrisania, in the South Bronx. Read more about this remarkable, colorful and beloved Irish American soldier, and, today, the traditional day for Memorial Day share with us stories of your family's own Irish American heroes in our Forum.

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Tags: Ballyjamesduff, Cavan, Europe, France, United States, War, World War I, army, military

Comment by Gerry Regan on May 30, 2013 at 5:18pm

Lawrence's last letter home, which I read aloud here.

Comment by Gerry Regan on May 30, 2013 at 5:20pm

Here's the content of the telegram from the War Department notifying Lawrence's mother that her son has died in France.

Comment by Gerry Regan on May 30, 2013 at 5:31pm

Comment by Rose Maurer on June 1, 2013 at 5:38am

The comparison of the warm, loving letter sent home by a naive, optimistic young soldier with the impersonal coldness of the War Office telegram jolts one into 'experiencing' the reality of war - then and now. The callousness of officialdom reflected by the stark written comments on the envelope, amplified by the red writing, commencing with "Dead', is magnified only by the 'rubber stamp'. I shudder at the thought of Lawrence's parents, and in particular his mother receiving this envelope. You have some fascinating family history there, Ger.

Comment by Eamon Loingsigh on June 1, 2013 at 12:26pm

That is powerful. I am so fascinated with the First World War. It's like the bridge between the beginning of modern times and the past. 

Comment by Gerry Regan on June 1, 2013 at 1:45pm

Eamon, Rose, I become emotional when I consider Turk's fate. Being the archivist for his letter trove, I've come to feel a sense of familiarity with him, as a keeper of the flame of his youth, stolen from him as it's been from so many young men (and increasingly women). The fact this his mother kept them all together, and then her daughte (Turk's sister -- my grandmother), and then to me, and I feel a keen sense of duty. I'm sure this is one of the reasons why I've worked hard to sustain The Wild Geese. I feel we must honor our ancestors -- our human dignity requires nothing less.

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