EIGHT MILE, Ala. (WALA) - The headstone delivered to Indian Springs Cemetery in Eight Mile Tuesday, January 29, looked like a brand new monument.
It was the same headstone that sat forgotten beside a church in Eight Mile for decades.
James Bryan said he was finally able to honor the uncle he was named for, thanks to efforts of another man.
"This has been a long time coming, getting a marker and getting his recognition," Bryan said.
Richard Jolly originally found the headstone. He said he promised his father years ago he would find out where the headstone belonged.
"I feel like a great burden has been lifted from my shoulder. I kept a promise to my father, and I've done the job that he gave me to do," Jolly said.
The original headstone was misspelled with a "T". That's why it was never placed on the veteran's grave.
James Earl Bryan died in a car wreck in 1953. Bryan found a picture of his uncle with a young woman who may have been his new wife or fiancée. He said he's learned a lot more about his uncle in the past two months.
"He was a 17-year-old boy who left Eight Mile and went off to the war in 1942. He was gone for a period of 10 years when he [came] back. And it just such a sad (situation) that he come back, he wasn't here but just a month or two when he got in the car wreck and got killed," Bryan said.
Correcting the misspelled name was only part of the problem. They also had to find Bryan's unmarked grave. They were able to do that thanks to his namesake's memory and a sounding rod.
Byran said the rod was able to pinpoint his father's grave in the unmarked plot, and they were then able to locate the other family graves, including his uncle's.
"As they say, 'Mission accomplished,'" Bryan said.
The two men are very pleased with how things worked out, and they said they're not the only ones who made it happen. Many others volunteered their time and their resources including Wilson Monument Company which restored and repaired the headstone and delivered it for free.
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