105 Years Late, Hero Is Buried in Arlington

Associated Press

The Navy buried a forgotten hero Friday, ceremoniously carrying the remains of Civil War Medal of Honor winner James Smith to Arlington National Cemetery, “where he belongs” after lying for a century in an unmarked pauper’s grave.

“This is now as it should be, only 105 years late,” Rep. Norman F. Lent (R-N.Y.) said at a wreath-laying ceremony on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Waiting across the Potomac River at Arlington were some of the Navy’s most senior admirals, ready to bury the sailor with solemn military honors.

Smith died in New York City in 1881 and was buried in an unmarked grave, his exploits aboard the warship Richmond at the Battle of Mobile Bay almost forgotten.

Eight-Year Struggle

But he left behind three children--and a 20th-Century great-grandson took up his cause. For the last eight years, Thomas Clarkson Brenker struggled to correct what he felt was the wrong done to his great-grandfather.

A formal Mass and memorial service were conducted for Smith last week in New York City, followed by Friday’s reinterment at Arlington, which had its origins as a cemetery for Civil War victims.