A whole century after his death, an Irish soldier who fought for America in World War I will finally receive a marker placed on his grave.
War hero Martin J. Cunningham has gotten the burial honors he should have received one hundred years ago.
Thanks to researchers and Catholic Charities in Chicago, $275 was raised and a marker will now be placed on his grave at a small ceremony this weekend.
The U.S. Army Corporal died in France on July 22nd 1918, and was buried in a five foot earthen grave with no box or blanket.
In 1920, the man's remains were bought back to Chicago where he lived and where his sister resided.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the heroic soldier was then reburied in an unmarked grave in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Morgan Park. The tragic young man never received the type of treatment an American hero should have.
100 years after his death in northern France, U.S. Army Corporal Martin J. Cunningham will get a marker placed on his grave in Mount Olivet Cemetery. https://t.co/4hlWSiWQkc pic.twitter.com/3ZeFWdFE5b— Daily Southtown (@DailySouthtown) July 20, 2018
Researcher Patrick Gorman, who works as executive director of the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home, first read about Cunningham on the website Veteran's View. Gorman took it upon himself to research Cunningham's past, and found out that he was born in 1888 in Shanvally, Co. Mayo.
“It is believed he came to New York and then Chicago to live with his sister in the early part of the 20th century,” Gorman told the newspaper.
Cunningham then joined the U.S. Army just before the nation entered World War I and was sent to serve with Company A of the 28th Infantry in Europe.
U.S. Navy veteran Tom O'Brien was also compelled to help.
“There are a lot of these guys out there that are just forgotten, and they were never recognized when they came home,” O’Brien said.
Cadets continue their observance of Memorial Day, identifying veterans’ graves and marking them with American flags at Mount Olivet Cemetery. pic.twitter.com/KFGk9xGINo— PATRIOT NJROTC (@PatriotNJROTC) May 26, 2018
“I started calling people in the neighborhood, as well as Windy City Vets and the VFW, just to let them know,” he said. “We’re trying to correct that wrong."
“I know there are several more (soldiers buried in unmarked graves) in Mount Olivet,” Tom O’Brien said. “There were a lot of soldiers killed in battle who were buried at the scene, in Flanders Field or wherever. If family had the money, they’d bring their bodies back home.”
Though its common for soldiers to be buried in unmarked graves, Gorman and O'Brien lament this sad fact.
“We’re trying to go through them a little at a time and replace them,” Tom O’Brien said. "Nobody needs to be forgotten, especially someone who gave their life for their country.”
Many Irish soldiers, Gorman said, have given their lives for the United States, their adopted country, during various wars.
Read more about Cunningham's story on VeteransView.com.