SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – It was two years ago we first did the story on the plans for the cemetery. Crews first broke ground in September of 2019. Flash forward to today, and the cemetery is finally taking shape.
As new Veteran’s State Cemetery gets closer to being complete, it brings a great deal of emotion to Vietnam Vet and Purple Heart Recipient Ken Teunissen.
“The day we came out here… and saw the American Flag on top of the hill waving after Veteran’s Day and the lights were shining up at night to the heavens, it was awesome. It would bring a tear to your eye,” Teunissen said.
As the Vice President of the South Dakota Vet Council, he’s been involved in the project since day one. He says what’s even more breathtaking is the response he’s seen.
“We were informed that there was over 500 veterans… and over 300 – almost 400 spouses have already put in their application to be certified to be laid to rest here when the time should come,” Teunissen said.
Construction on the 60 acres of land began in 2019, so far, 13 of those acres are now home to many amenities: From a committal shelter where they will hold services for the fallen, a scatter garden where loved ones can spread ashes, and a grave locator so loved ones can find their plot.
“I will have the location of where their loved one will be: it will have their row and their section,” Brown said.
Director of the Cemetery Erin Brown says that there’s still more construction work and landscaping that will be done in the springtime.
“This place will be up to national shrine standards so it will be a great place for family members to visit their loved ones,” Brown said.
Teunissen says the they have an endowment fund to help cover future maintenance costs for the site. So far, they’ve hit $800,000 dollars of their $3,000,000 goal.
“It’s a blessing to be standing her on hallowed ground… and this is hallowed ground and it will be for many, many, many generations to come,” Teunissen said.