SWANTON — The Veterans Memorial Park here filled Thursday morning with residents, visitors, local officials, state officials, members of the Vermont Army National Guard and descendants of mythic war heroes in a celebration of Leonard Antoine Lord, the first Vermonter killed in battle during World War I.
Lord was born in Saint-Sébastien, a small town in the Montérégie region of Quebec, Canada, in 1897.
But he grew up in Swanton, where he worked on his father’s farm and harvested a reputation for riding his 1916 Harley around the village park.
Lord enlisted in the First Vermont Infantry’s B Company, in St. Albans, on May 14, 1917.
He then transferred into the 26th Division’s 103rd Machine Gun Battalion on Aug. 23.
The battalion dispatched for France on Oct. 3, 1917.
Lord spent that winter and the spring of 1918 traveling northeastern France.
He allotted money out of his military paycheck for his family in Swanton.
Lord wrote to his family that he and his fellow soldiers, in trench warfare, were “woodchucks coming out of our holes to see what danger there is, and if there is no danger, coming out and sitting in the sun.”
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