OKLAHOMA CITY - With Memorial Day underway, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War honored Sgt. Monroe Kennedy, who died in 1898 shortly after moving to Oklahoma.
The ceremony happened Monday afternoon at the Oklahoma Veteran’s Cemetery, including a full military salute.
“We crown these remains with the symbol of victory,” said Jeff Kennedy, the great-grandson of Monroe.
Monroe was a soldier of color who served in what was called the US Colored Troops of Tennessee. He fought in the Battle of Nashville before the Civil War came to an end.
“Said it was the coldest day of the year and, then, after he finished, he immigrated to Texas and, then to Oklahoma in 1892,” Kennedy said.
But, the problem is Monroe didn’t have a grave until Monday.
“He was marked in an unmarked grave,” said Brian Pierson, with the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War. “No one knew where he was buried except for the general area.”
120 years later, Monroe finally got a headstone. Today, his family lives all over the area, including right here in Oklahoma.
Many in the Kennedy family who came after Monroe have also served.
“I do have several members of my family that are veterans, United States Navy,” Kennedy said. “So we’ve answered the call, of course, not only during the Civil War but also during the modern day. So, I’d say the Kennedy family has certainly answered the call.”
“Today is a particularly special day because we are dedicating the grave of Jeff’s great-grandfather, who was a soldier in the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War, buried in an unmarked grave,” Pierson said. “We’ve got him his grave, so this a tremendous honor for us to actually be able to place a grave for a Civil War soldier.”
Organizers dedicated a grave marker at Monroe’s final resting place before reading the Gettysburg Address.
“One of the great missions of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is to continue to promote Memorial Day,” Pierson said.
Others who made the ultimate sacrifice were heavy on the minds of those who attended.
“Just the sacrifices that these guys from the Union, that made those sacrifices,” Kennedy said. “All in all, this is what makes America great.”