PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Governor Kristi Noem and the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs announced that the state will break ground on the first South Dakota State Veterans Cemetery.
“This project isn’t just about building another cemetery. This project is a tribute to patriots. This cemetery will immortalize the sacrifices that have been made for our freedoms. It’s a real way we can show gratitude to those who have served and show the next generation that sacrifice doesn’t go unnoticed,” Governor Kristi Noem said in a statement.
According the SDDVA, South Dakota is home to more than 72,000 veterans, and approximately 50,000 reside in the eastern part of the state. The nearest national cemetery available to the veterans is in Sturgis or Ft. Snelling, Minn.
“The construction of our state veterans cemetery will help ensure veterans from each side of South Dakota receive the recognition they deserve for their service. It permits them to rest with honor near their homes and families,” Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden said in a statement.
The conversation about the construction of a national cemetery began in 2018 when the South Dakota State Legislature passed Senate Bill 91, which authorized the SDDVA to seek funding from the National Cemetery Administration.
According to the statement, the funding will help construct main entrance, an avenue of flags, an administration building, a maintenance facility, roads, an assembly area, a committal shelter, preplaced crypts, cremains burial areas, columbaria, scatter burial area, a memorial wall and walkway, landscaping, and supporting infrastructure.
It will also include 610 pre-placed crypts, 999 cremains gravesites, 660 columbarium niches, and 50 memorial wall markers. The landscaping will be in accordance with existing standards set by the VA for its national cemeteries.
The cemetery will be built north of I-229/I-90 Interchange off Slip Up Creek Road and 477th Avenue. The project will develop about 12.9 acres.
The groundbreaking ceremony will start at 9 a.m. on September 9.