‘We just can’t let his memory be forgotten’ — Black WWI soldier finally receives the recognition he deserves

"We just can't let his memory be forgotten."
Haley Britzky Avatar

Leonard Inman, a black World War I soldier who was buried in an unmarked grave more than 40 years ago, is finally getting the dignity that he was denied after serving his country.

A Lafayette, Indiana, chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution helped get a headstone for Inman after discovering that his name was misspelled in a 1919 Tippecanoe County World War I Honor Roll book, according to the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

Inman was born in 1893, and enlisted in 1918, according to the Journal & Courier. He served in the 809th Pioneer Infantry, Company C; he “likely served under French command,” the Journal & Courier reported, given that the U.S. military was still segregated at the time.

After the war, Inman came back to Lafayette. He died in November 1973 of an apparent heart attack.

The Vice Regent of the DAR chapter, Diana Vice, found Inman’s name with 17 other black soldiers that served in WWI from Tippecanoe County, the Associated Press reported. She then contacted the Tippecanoe County Veterans Services office, and they paid for Inman’s headstone.

“We just can’t let his memory be forgotten,” Vice told the Journal & Courier. “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.”

On Saturday, a memorial was schedule for Leonard Inman at the Spring Vale Cemetery in Lafayette, Indiana, including a 21-gun salute, taps by the American Legion Post 492 and retiring of the colors, per the AP. Relatives from Nevada were expected to attend dedication.