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South Dakota veterans honored at new park

Tom Davis, co-chairman of the Tri-County Veteran's Committee, speaks Friday afternoon in Chamberlain after granite monuments were unveiled at the new South Dakota Veteran's Park near the South Dakota Hall of Fame. (Chris Mueller/Republic)

CHAMBERLAIN -- Newly raised flags waved in the cool, gusting wind Friday afternoon in Chamberlain as more than 200 people attended a dedication ceremony for the new South Dakota Veteran's Park.

The highlight of the ceremony was the unveiling of six 4-by-6-foot granite monuments, each dedicated to a branch of the military. Hundreds of "pavers," or bricks engraved with the names of South Dakota military members, have already been sold by the Tri-County Veterans Committee and set in the concrete in front of the granite monuments.

"Every paver represents honor, freedom and courage," said Tom Davis, co-chairman of the Tri-County Veterans Committee. "This is hallowed ground."

The dedication included a speech by retired Maj. Gen. Carl H. McNair, a Virginia resident with an extensive and illustrious military career spanning more than five decades. McNair said he was "amazed" by the memorial and saluted the more than 70,000 living veterans in South Dakota.

"I'm just so proud to be here with you in South Dakota," he said.

The memorial stands just north of the South Dakota Hall of Fame, which is located within an interstate interchange off I-90's Exit 263. The hall is hosting induction ceremonies this weekend.

So far, the park and monuments have cost about $200,000, but plans to install an additional 28 permanent flag poles to circle the site as well as a public park area are expected to raise the cost to as much as $300,000, Davis said.

As the project is funded entirely by private donations, the remaining work will be completed as funds become available.