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GOODWIN: New veterans' cemetery is a jewel
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GOODWIN: New veterans' cemetery is a jewel

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I wanted to report back to you about the dedication of South Dakota’s first and only state veterans’ cemetery. Yep, Marcia and I had the distinct honor and privilege to attend the dedication on Memorial Day.

How did this happen? What is the back story? Well, in our great state, we do have a national cemetery located next to I-90 just before arriving in Sturgis, going north from Rapid City. This cemetery is a pristine resting place with the sacred ground of our fallen heroes.

It is almost eerie to walk on the immaculate green grass dotted with the white, marble grave markers, all the same size and shape, all depicting the branch of service with each veteran’s name and rank. You see, amongst us veterans, rank is unimportant once we are discharged. We are all the same, brothers and sisters in arms, having all served our great nation. Thus, we all have the exact same white, marble gravestones.

The significance of an additional veterans’ cemetery is that now we have two final resting places for our veterans. This will slow down the fill of our national cemetery and give families of our east river veterans a much closer resting place.

How did we get fortunate enough to get another veterans’ cemetery? Well, we were one of the few states that didn’t have a state veterans’ cemetery, and this opportunity became available via the National Cemetery Commission. What is cool, or I should say patriotic, about accomplishing this is that we had the support of our governor, the legislature (via Senate bill 91), and our South Dakota Veterans Council. This group includes the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Paralyzed Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans of America, and The Military Order of Purple Hearts. Also, this would not have been possible without the city of Sioux Falls donating the 60 acres of land for the cemetery.

Senate bill 91 authorized the South Dakota Veterans Council to establish a State Veterans Cemetery Endowment Fund to help offset costs associated with the maintenance and upkeep of this state veterans’ cemetery. As per State Senator V.J. Smith of Brookings, “A vital part of the cemetery project is the endowment fund. When the fund reaches $3 million dollars, the interest and earnings will be used for maintenance of the grounds. Fundraising efforts are ongoing, and officials are very encouraged that the goal will be achieved very soon.”

Where is this new jewel located? The address is 25965 477th Ave, Sioux Falls, 57204. The phone number to call is 605-277-8094 and you can email to sdvc@state.sd.us.

To the citizens of South Dakota and to the men and women in uniform, in honor of all who served, in respectful memory of all who fell, and in great appreciation to those who serve today, Thank You, for giving me the opportunity to represent you.

Tim R. Goodwin is a District 30 Representative.

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