Donohue ~ Local Hero at Argonne
A young immigrant,Patrick Donohue, arrived in Lawrence at the age of 17 in 1906 - never imagining he would be hailed a hero in France. Paddy, as he was known, enlisted in the United States Army in Company G, 328th Infantry, 82nd All American Division in 1917 to fight in World War I.
This Company was known to the public because of the 1941 movie, Sargent York,starring Garry Cooper. The battle that took place in France at Chatel-Cherery ~ was called the Battle of Argonne. On October 18, 1918, 17 American soldiers fought - outnumbered by the Germans, they broke through the German line causing the Germans to withdraw. Sgt. York got the credit and Gary Cooper got the Academy Award. But as we know, one man alone was not responsible for the German defeat. Private Patrick Paddy J. Donohue of Lawrence was one of the unsung heroes of that battle.
Donohue was wounded in the battle and he received the Purple Heart and a Silver Star Medal. Upon his return to Lawrence he was uncomfortable speaking of the battle. Upon his death, in 1962, he was buried in Bellevue Cemetery in Lawrence and his medals were sent to his sister in Ireland.
In 2008 the French government unveiled a monument listing the names of Donohue and the other members of his unit at a 90th anniversary of the Battle of Argonne. "Private Patrick Donohue, Lawrence, Massachusetts " is the 12th name inscribed on the stone. Relatives of the "Other Sixteen" are trying to get some recognition for this Unit in the United States. The purpose according to the web site www.the-othersixteen.org is "not to dismantle an American hero, but to add 16 more."
Patricia Waters, a grand niece of Patrick Donohue, is working towards getting local recognition for her great uncle here in Lawrence. She recalls sitting a bench in Campagnone Common, listening to him speak about his family and the old country. Ms. Waters quoted in a 1999 Eagle Tribune article said" You know, the amazing part to me of all these recounts of battle is that these soldiers were young men, really young adults, facing unbelievably difficult situations, defending themselves and this country. I think we as a nation often forget that the servicemen who defend and represent us are probably just out of their teens and if they are unfortunate and are wounded, will have to live the rest of their lives with terrible scars on their bodies and perhaps their minds."
Private Donohue is reminder of the thousands of immigrants who come to the United States for a better life and because of the deep belief in the promise of this country are willing to sacrifice their lives for this belief in the promise of America.
Donohue's legacy continues today - two percent of today's military are legal immigrants,not citizens,enlisted in various branches of national defense to defend that American Dream. As Ms. Waters says, "Have we ever really thanked those young servicemen(women) for their sacrifice?"
Dorgan, Maurice, "With the 'One Man Army,'History of Lawrence, Massachusetts
Ragsdale, Kathie Neff, "The Hero who made Sgt. York,"Eagle Tribune, May 31, 1999;
Vogler, Mark, Eagle Tribune, November 10, 2008.
Waters, Patricia. Personal memories. 2009.