Pvt Hdq Co 13th Infantry Div
Born in Gettysburg Oct. 17th, 1895
Killed in action at Catigny, France
April 27, 1918
The first Gettysburg boy to make the supreme sacrifice in the World War*
What is it about being the first to die that grants one recognition? I’ve looked at this before, with David Eldridge (who has the distinction of being the first European to die in the Western Reserve). It’s certainly not an honor very many people would vie for. Albert Lentz, from what I can tell, had done nothing particularly noteworthy before his departure for service in Europe. I’m not saying he wasn’t a perfectly nice young man, loved by friends and family, because I don’t know – he seems to have been living an average unrecorded life. Suddenly, he has the misfortune to be the first Gettysburg fatality in the Great War, and he’s a household name – really, he gave his name to the American Legion post in Gettysburg. But what is it about being first? For a far-off war, is it the first body that is not just a body, but the shell of a person who we used to know? For a new place, is it the knowledge that even if we move from this spot, some small part of us will also remain here with the first person we have broken ground to bury?
*Any errors in transcription are my own. I tried to confirm my transcription with online sources, but others disagreed on items I am confident I can read clearly.