User uShare Login | Register
Login
Register

Along with posting photos, videos, and stories, your uShare account lets you post Classified Ads, recipes on What's For Dinner, and Announcements.


64° View Weather Current Conditions Sioux Falls Change Location
Set Weather Options

RADAR LOCATION

TEMPERATURE LOCATION

KELOLAND.com | Sioux Falls News & Weather, South Dakota News & Weather, Minnesota and Iowa News

[0] My Saved Articles
Find local businesses
on the KELO Pages!

 

Coffin Craftsmen

March 11, 2014, 9:57 PM by Perry Groten

Coffin Craftsmen
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

Sadly, the weather extremes of winter have taken their toll on the elderly and on South Dakota's old soldiers, in particular. That means it's been a busy time of year for those who offer one final salute to those who've served their country. 

In a back room at the Sioux Falls VFW, volunteer woodworkers apply their hobby toward the hereafter.

"It's just a pleasure to see my work that's going to one of the vets," VFW member Don Norton said.

They build wooden coffins from scratch. A gift to military veterans from those who are eternally grateful for their service.

"It's a labor of honor and respect for our fellow veterans," VFW Post 628 Commander Butch Haugen said.

It's part of Veterans Honored Interment, a program that started at the Veterans Home in Hot Springs and has since expanded to eastern South Dakota.

"There are veterans that are the only one left, so they have no family. We are their family. We take care of them," Haugen said.

The volunteers gather once a week. They can build a complete coffin, from start to finish, in about 20 hours.

"If we have three of us, we can put it together in a day, just the basic shell, then the rest of it takes time," Norton said.

The volunteers use their own tools. Most of the materials, from the oak to the handles, are purchased locally. They follow a building pattern borrowed from the monks at the old Blue Cloud Abbey. Yet each coffin is unique: distinct in the wood grain and the challenges they sometimes present.

"We boo-boo once in a while, hope we can hide it," Norton said

Leftover wood goes into the making of cremation urns. Norton says he's even making an urn of his own. But he's too focused on the finished product to dwell on his own mortality.  

"You know, I don't think about it. It's just working with the wood and yeah, it's going to be mine," Norton said. 

Demand for these coffins usually peaks at this time of year.  A lot of older veterans haven't been able to survive this cold, harsh winter.

"We all get older, the seasons get harder on us. So as the seasons get harder on us, we're apt to lose more of our elderly people and in this case, we lose our older veterans and it gets busy about this time of year," Haugen said.

The volunteers have a waiting list of 22 coffins. But they can't build without donations from the public. They welcome any financial help. The solemn simplicity of the wooden coffins they assemble honors the sacrifices of South Dakotans who've fallen but aren't forgotten. 

Veterans are also asked to make a minimum donation, but they won't be denied a coffin or an urn if they cannot afford it.

If you'd like to make a donation to Veterans Honored Interment, call the Sioux Falls VFW at (605) 338-0869.

KELOLAND News KELOLAND News KELOLAND News
Photo Credit:
Photo Gallery:

Previous Story

Next Story


Comments







 
Find Local Businesses on KELO Pages!

View featured stories

You may also like

Strategies To Fill Rural Positions

7/22/2014 10:00 PM

Sitting along U.S. Highway 12, the town of Roscoe in central Edmunds County isn't very big. That's where Nathan Locken is trying to find worke...

Full Story | Watch
Inside KELOLAND: 24/7 Sobriety Program, Sioux Falls Events, Arc of Dreams

7/20/2014 3:30 PM

Since its beginnings South Dakota's 24-7 sobriety program's goal is to keep people sober and out of jail.

Full Story | Watch
Treacherous Training

7/17/2014 10:02 PM

Firefighters do more than put out fires. This time of year, they can find themselves braving rushing waters to save a person who might be in trou...

Full Story | Watch
Cyclists In The City

7/21/2014 9:55 PM

For some people, learning to ride a bike is the oldest memory they have. It's something you can do at a young age.

Full Story | Watch
Learning Spanish Early On

7/18/2014 10:13 PM

Hola, or "Cómo estás?" those are just some of the words pre-schoolers at the EmBe Avera downtown have picked up.

Full Story | Watch


Events