Oct. 23, 2007
The saga of Sgt. John Rice, a decorated veteran who was refused burial in a Sioux City cemetery in 1951 because of his Native American roots, will be revisited through the words of his grandson, Scott Goodwin, when Morningside College hosts “Sgt. John Rice: A Native Hero” on Monday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. in the UPS Auditorium of the Lincoln Center, 3627 Peters Avenue.
The public is invited to the free event, which is sponsored by Morningside’s Academic and Cultural Arts Series (ACAS).
Sioux City made national headlines in 1951 when a controversy broke out after officials at Memorial Park Cemetery refused to bury Sgt. Rice, a decorated World War II veteran and a Korean War casualty, because of his Native American ancestry. President Harry S. Truman eventually intervened and arranged for Rice to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Rice had been killed on Sept. 6, 1950, while leading a squad of riflemen against an enemy assault near the village of Tabu-Dong, Korea. His body was shipped home to Winnebago, Neb., almost a year later in August 1951. His wife, Evelyn, purchased a lot for her husband at Memorial Park Cemetery without incident. During the funeral on August 28 a cemetery official observed the large number of Native Americans at the service and learned that Rice was part Native American. Following the service, the Rice family was informed of the cemetery’s “Caucasians only” policy and was forced to take the body back to Winnebago.
Goodwin, who was born in Sioux City in 1965 as the oldest grandson of Rice, said his presentation will blend the facts from the events of 1951 with what he learned from his grandmother while he was growing up. “I will try to bring the event to a more personal level through what I learned about it as a kid from everything my grandmother told me,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin lived in Sioux City for 11 years until his family moved to Littleton, Colo. He graduated from the University of Colorado in 1994 with a degree in business administration. Goodwin was trained in the financial services/financial software industry in the World Trade Center in New York City and is currently a senior quality assurance analyst for Security Information Systems in Denver, a subsidiary of the financial software company Broadridge, Inc.