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Sat, 01.06.1894

Moses Hardy Farmer and Soldier born

Moses Hardy

*Moses Hardy was born on this date in 1894. He was a Black farmer and soldier.

Hardy was born in Aberdeen, Mississippi. His parents, Morris Hardy and Nancy Hardy were former slaves. After the American Civil War, his parents purchased 265 acres of land in Mississippi from a Chickasaw Native American for a dollar. The Hardy family was deeply religious, and Moses would later recount that Exodus 20:12, which instructed one to honor their parents, was his favorite Bible passage. Hardy was married once to Fannie Marshall and had eight children.

He served in France from July 1918 to July 1919, including thirty-nine combat days. As an African American, he served in a segregated army unit, the 805th Pioneer Infantry, commanded by white officers. Hardy's outfit was armed solely with rifles instead of standard-issue machine guns. After the war, Hardy's division was responsible for cleaning up the battlefields and removing the dead. Hardy also witnessed many friends get killed in action and relied on his faith in God to get him through the toughest times. He was a scout who would help bring supplies to troops on the front line. On September 25, 1918, he was present at the Meuse River during a mustard gas attack, where he injured his knee.

Hardy rarely spoke about the fighting and preferred to talk about France's weather when asked about his experiences overseas. Hardy did not serve in World War II, drove a school bus, farmed, and sold liniments and wigs until his retirement. He reportedly continued to go door-to-door for several years past his centenary, even resorting to phone sales when his children hid the keys of his 1972 Chevrolet Caprice. For his service, Hardy received the Victory Medal, the Occupational Medal from the Mississippi Army National Guard, an honorable discharge (not received upon leaving the army), and the French Légion d'honneur.

In 1999, when he was 105 years old, the Mississippi Legislature adopted a resolution recognizing him as an outstanding citizen of Mississippi. He was interviewed by Treehouse Productions in 2006 as part of their Living History Project, a radio tribute to the last surviving World War I veterans. His longevity was due to a daily meal of cabbage, cornbread, buttermilk, potatoes, and Dr. Pepper, and he never drank alcohol or smoked. Hardy lived on his own until 2004, when his legs weakened. He was placed in a rest home but could still feed himself and pass the days.

At the time of his death, he was the oldest United States combat veteran ever, the oldest male ever recorded in Mississippi, and had outlived at least three of his eight children. He had several dozen grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was the last African American WW I veteran. Although he suffered from mild dementia in his later years and had trouble speaking coherently, he was lucid through his final days and died of natural causes. Moses Hardy died on December 7, 2006.

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