Area residents gathered today at the Milbank Armory to honor local veterans and all servicemen and women across the country at the annual Veterans Day program. The MHS band opened the ceremony and the MHS choir performed the “Star Spangled Banner”. Val Rausch presented the keynote address. Preston Fischer, Commander of VFW Post #3486, gave the introduction. The salute to fallen comrades was conducted by Post 3486’s Rifle Squad. Taps was performed by MHS trumpet players Dylan Bohn, Mason Cordingley, Aidan Ludvigson, Paul VanDover, and EmilyJo Wollschlager. Other groups who contributed to the event included: American Legion Post 9, VFW Post 3486, the VFW Auxiliary, and the 740th Transportation Color Guards; Disabled Veterans Chapter 19; Sons of the American Legion; the Legion Auxiliary President; and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1054.
Veteran supporters are now turning their attention to preparing for the upcoming National Wreaths Across America Day on December 17. The day is designed to ‘Remember the Fallen. . . Honor those who Serve. . . and Teach our children the value of Freedom”. Please join The Valley Express in purchasing a wreath for this important occasion. On December 17, at veterans cemeteries from “sea to shining sea”, wreaths will be laid on the gravesites of veterans from every branch of service. From Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. to Willamette National Cemetery in Oregon, volunteers will place a wreath and say the name of each veteran aloud. Ceremonies will also be held at sea and abroad. The South Dakota Veterans Memorial Cemetery will hold its ceremony, along with the other U.S. cemeteries, at 11 a.m. on December 17. You can help honor our local heroes by purchasing a wreath. Wreaths are just $15 apiece. You can even choose a specific veteran’s gravesite for the wreath or add a card to let a friend or loved one know you made a donation in their name. The wreaths are handcrafted of balsam in Maine and adorned with a red velvet bow. For more information or to place your order go to: wreathsacrossamerica.org. Prefer to make your purchase by phone? Call 877.385.9504 Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. or Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. If you would like to place the wreath yourself, you are welcome to do so. If you would like to volunteer during the ceremony, you are also welcome to do so. Sign up on the Wreaths Across America website. Everyone is welcome to attend. The South Dakota Veterans Memorial Cemetery is located north of the Interstate 229 and Interstate 90 interchange off Slip Up Creek Road and 477th Avenue in Sioux Falls.
The South Dakota Veterans Memorial Cemetery was completed in Sioux Falls in 2021, and is the only state veterans cemetery in eastern South Dakota. The Black Hills National Cemetery, located three miles southeast of Sturgis, was established in 1948 and now has over 30,000 interments. The South Dakota Department of Veteran Affairs held a ceremony today at the South Dakota Veterans Memorial Cemetery to honor veterans and unveil a pair of eagle sculptures. The eagles will welcome visitors at the cemetery’s main entrance and serve as guardians for the veterans at their final resting place. The sculptures were funded by private donations and by the artist.
Jurek Jakowicz, a Polish-born sculptor who now lives in Sioux Falls, created the eagles. Jakowicz is best known for his artworks at the Boston Public Library and the Patton Museum at Fort Knox in Kentucky. He also designed and made the 24-carat gold medallion of Melania Trump and her newborn.