SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Hundreds of people got their first look at South Dakota’s state veterans cemetery.
Dignitaries, service members, veterans and their families all showed up on this Memorial Day.
Until now, the families of veterans who wanted to be buried with their fellow service members had to travel to the Black Hills National cemetery near Sturgis.
Susan Pierson and her mom Jan say they wanted to be here because this will become a special place for their family.
“My husband passed away and we are here to watch this and then he’ll be buried out here,” Susan said.
Tom Hanson: What does this mean to have him on this side of the state for you?
Susan Pierson: Oh, well a lot I would never get out to Sturgis like I do here, it means a lot.
The cemetery was made possible by cooperation between the federal, state and local governments who recognized the need for a veterans cemetery that did not create a hardship for veterans families on the east side of the state.
“Cemeteries can be sad places, we honor those who have fallen but people also understand that this is a special ground and it took a lot of work from a lot of people to get here, they’re celebrating that effort they are celebrating that success,” U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) said.
And that’s exactly how the Pierson’s feel, they are feeling the pain of losing someone special but they know what this new facility represents to hundreds of families just like theirs.
“It’s going to be so nice to have him near,” Jan said.
“I think it gives more sense of a closure that he’s here, and he’s not out west, and it’s beautiful out there my uncles out there and its beautiful but closure is huge and that’s what we are waiting for,” Susan said.
John Pierson will be among the first to be buried at the new state cemetery.
The first phase of construction was just completed and the first veterans will be buried this week.
The new cemetery is located just north of the I-229 – I-90 interchange off Slip Up Creek Road.
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