A black World War I soldier was finally recognized for his military service over the weekend, decades after he was buried in an unmarked grave in Indiana.
Leonard Inman was interred at the Spring Vale Cemetery in Lafayette following his death in 1973.
The General de Lafayette Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution helped get a headstone for Inman after discovering his name in the 1919 Tippecanoe County World War I Honor Roll book, the Lafayette Journal & Courier reported.
“We just can’t let his memory be forgotten,” said Diana Vice, the chapter’s vice regent. “I just think that we need to honor them. (African American soldiers are) relegated to the back of this history book in 1919. I felt like he deserved one, and his memory needs to be kept alive and honored for his service and sacrifice.”
Vice said she discovered Inman didn’t have a headstone after she found his name with those of 17 other black soldiers who served in the war from Tippecanoe County. She contacted the county’s Veterans Services office, which paid for the marker.
A memorial featuring a posting of colors, a 21-gun salute and the retiring of colors and taps by a local American Legion Post was held for Inman on Saturday. Vice told The Associated Press prior to the ceremony that Inman’s relative from Nevada had flown out for the tribute.
Messages to the Lafayette chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution were not immediately returned.
Inman was born in 1893 in Knoxville, Tenn., and served in the 809th Pioneer Infantry, Company C. He enlisted in the military 10 years after moving with his family to Lafayette, Ind., in 1908.
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The armed forces weren’t desegregated until 1948, meaning Inman likely served under French command, according to the chapter’s research. Black soldiers were not allowed to directly engage in combat at the time.
After his military service, Inman returned to Lafayette. He died Nov. 25, 1973 from an apparent heart attack. He had no children.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.