AKRON, Ohio — Most people hope to leave behind a positive legacy when they pass. Alvin Smith has done more than that. Decades after his death, he is still being remembered as a hero.

What You Need To Know

  • Alvin Smith escaped slavery in Kentucky and joined the Union Army in Hillsboro, Ohio

  • Smith fought in several battles, including Petersburg and Richmond

  • Smith was Summit County's last living Civil War veteran

Dennis Parks has studied Smith's life and said, “he was born into slavery in Kentucky and he escaped and crossed the Ohio River. Then he joined the union army in Hillsboro, Ohio, and he went on to fight in several battles. He was in Petersburg and in Richmond.”

Smith, who passed away in 1948 at the age of 104, was Summit County’s last living Civil War veteran.

You can’t find a better person to honor than someone who had the gumption to escape and to go join the army and fight for his freedom,” said Parks.

On Monday, the Akron Municipal Court and Mount Peace Cemetery honored this American hero in an early Veterans Day ceremony.

In attendance was Robert Cuellas, the past commander of American Legion John Fulton Post 272.

"We felt that as we were a predominately African American post, that it was important to be here to honor him and his sacrifice and his service," said Cuellas.

Cuellas, who is a navy veteran, says it makes him happy that people are still honoring the sacrifice that Smith made decades ago.

"It fills me with pride — not only for him, but for all African American soldiers and sailors of color, men and women alike — that there are some parts of this country, a great many parts of this country that honor their sacrifice and recognize the fact that they sacrificed so much.”