A local veteran's grave site will finally display his proper honors.
ANACOCO – After a long struggle and two failed attempts, Donald Moore can at last feel a sense of peace over the grave site of his World War II veteran uncle, Pfc. Robert LeRoy Cain.
On Friday morning, Aug. 21, a special ceremony was held at Holly Grove Cemetery to place a veterans recognition marker at Cain's grave, signifying his ultimate sacrifice for American freedom.
"It's just a relief to finally have him recognized. It's what he deserves," Moore said.
Robert Cain grew up in the tight-knit community surrounding Holly Grove, and the widow of Cain's best friend was present at the ceremony. "I never met [Cain], but I heard enough stories about him to know all about him," Ruth Dixon said.
Ruth's husband, Joe Kenneth Dixon, grew up with Cain and after the two were separated by battles scattered across Europe and other continents, the men managed to find each other shortly before Cain was killed.
"Kenneth said they were very happy to find each other, but that Robert was convinced he would not live to return home. Kenneth tried to reassure him, but Robert was certain he wasn't going to make it," Ruth recalled.
Cain was killed shortly after that reunion, just three short months before the Germans surrendered.
"I think Kenneth carried a lot of guilt with him for coming home alive when Robert didn't," Ruth said.
Along with thousands of other soldiers, Cain's body was originally buried in Belgium, but was later exhumed in 1946 and transported back to the United States.
Moore said that he remembers that moment vividly from his own childhood. "I was about eight years old, I guess," he said. "I remember the army truck bringing the body home in just a plain casket and soldiers staying guard over the body. It was left in the house for the family to see - closed of course - until we had the funeral. They played 'Taps' and everything."
It was a unified effort that took three tries. But finally, Moore, with help from the Military Order of the Purple Heart organization and the Vernon Parish Police Jury, was able to obtain the marker and place it at Cain's grave.
In 2008, Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Jesse Campos, offered his help.
"Jesse and I go to church together and are good family friends, so when he heard that I was having trouble, he said he could help me," Moore explained.
The first two attempts Campos made were through Senator David Vitter, but both pleas for a government-furnished marker were denied.
"We understand [Mr. Moore's] desire to have his uncle's grave marked ... however, we are unable to honor his request," reads a letter sent to Vitter's office from William Tuerk with the VA department. "Under current law, we cannot furnish markers for veterans' graves that are already marked with a private memorial if the veteran died prior to November 1, 1990."
Feeling frustrated with their wasted efforts, the Order of the Purple Heart then turned to the Police Jury, Campos said.
"The jury told us that they could not use parish funds to pay for it, but they wanted to help, so they pooled the money from their own pockets to pay the bulk of the price for the marker," Moore said.
The cost of the marker totaled near $600, but the police jurors remained humble about their good deed which paved the way for Friday's intimate ceremony to place the marker on Cain's grave.
"We did what we did because it was the right thing to do," Police Jury President Jim Tuck said during the ceremony.
With the marker in place now, the sacrifice that Cain made for his country, his family and his friends is one that won't soon be forgotten.