September 6, 2007

September 6 | John Raymond Rice

April 25, 1914 - September 6, 1950: Age 36

Sergeant John Raymond Rice was an American soldier killed in action in Korea in 1950. His body wasn't shipped home to Nebraska until the following August, and his wife Evelyn prepared to have him buried at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Sioux City. During the funeral on August 28 a cemetery employee noticed there were a lot of Native Americans among the mourners. When cemetery officials discovered that Rice himself was native, they made the family take the body home without burying it.

According to the cemetery officials, they weren't being prejudiced, just enforcing a policy based on people's wish to be with their own kind. They insisted they had legal obligation to the rest of plot owners in the cemetery.

After a big firefight in the press, then-President Harry Truman publicly reprimanded the cemetery and the Sioux City town leaders. Rice's family were invited to bring him to be bured at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington. Sergeant Rice (who was also a WWII veteran) was buried with full military honors on September 5, 1951, nearly a year to the day after he died, in Arlington National Cemetery between a couple of generals.

Sources: Find-a-Grave, Sioux City History

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