WWI Victory Medal comes home
A victory medal awarded to a young WWI gunner and former Queen’s student, Eric H. May, BA’20, has found a permanent home in Queen’s archives thanks to a gift from Dr. Kevin McCormick, a man who is passionate about preserving and commemorating Canadian military history.
Ottawa-born May was a popular and athletic student who enlisted in the 72nd (Queen’s) Battery in April 1917 and landed in France in July of the same year. He was wounded on the battlefield and died from his injuries on August 22, 1918 at the age of 20. After his death, his family started a scholarship in his memory dedicated to enabling top students from Ottawa to study at Queen’s.
When McCormick came upon the fallen student’s medal, he decided its rightful place was Queen’s Archives, and so he donated it. McCormick, who is the President and Vice-Chancellor at Huntington University in Sudbury and the Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the Irish Regiment of Canada, recently embarked on an 18-month mission to reunite lost military artifacts with family members, wherever possible, or to have them installed in museums and archives.
Too mark the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI, McCormick intends to make hundreds of personal donations over the next months. His mission will conclude next July, when he makes his last donation with a ceremony at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa.
“Queen’s has very strong connections with the military community, from our students who go on to careers in the armed forces, our alumni who teach at the Royal Military College [RMC], or who hold degrees from both Queen’s and RMC, to the collaborative research programs of Queen’s and RMC,” says Provost Alan Harrison. “It means a great deal to us to have this medal in our collection and to be able to commemorate a Queen’s student who gave his life for his country.”
A photograph of May’s victory medal has been added to Eric Horsey May’s page on the Queen’s remembers website at http://archives.queensu.ca/Exhibits/queensremembers.html. – QNC