Raleigh Community Center Renamed in Honor of Fallen Soldier
Posted December 25, 2007 2:15 p.m. EST
Updated December 26, 2007 4:23 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — The Raleigh's South-Gate Community Center was recently renamed to honor a soldier that gave a lot to his community and country.
"Courtney was always there for everybody,” mother Asundra Johnson said.
Courtney Johnson spent most of his free time at the center.
"A lot of the younger community members would be here, and he would mentor them. He liked sports, he coached the softball team,” Robyn Hicks, Courtney Johnson's fiancee, said.
"Growing up here, you are not used to seeing a lot of stuff. They're not used to seeing positive. You're used to seeing negative. You're used to seeing people doing the same old scene, drugs or whatever,” brother Trevor Johnson said. “He was always trying to tell me, no matter how much negativity is around you, always stay positive."
Johnson brought that positive attitude to the Marine Corps and later the United States Army, where he became a sergeant.
"He just felt like that was something he needed to do,” Robyn Hicks said.
On July 11, Johnson was killed during a firefight in Iraq. His commander said he was trying to wake up fellow soldiers asleep in their tents.
"They (the Army) knock on your door. 'We have come to tell you that your son, Courtney T. Johnson, will not be coming home today,' that was it,” Asundra Johnson said.
The family wanted to rename the community center in Johnson's honor. The request meant waiving a city policy, so the family started a petition. They needed more than 1,000 signatures to move forward with the name change.
"All you would have to say was his name and they would just start signing,” Trevor Johnson said.
Earlier this month, the Raleigh City Council approved renaming the facility.
"I feel like all things happen for a reason,” Asundra Johnson said.
The Johnson family plans to build up the center's reputation.
"Just get more people in the community to come together as one,” Robyn Hicks said.
"We want his legacy to go onto this community, onto his son, and hopefully it will. So with God's will, it will,” Asundra Johnson said.
If you would like to volunteer or donate to the Courtney T. Johnson Community Center, sent an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.