Design Nearly Complete for South Dakota State Veteran Cemetery
SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- Plans are coming together for South Dakota’s first state-run veteran cemetery that will give veterans the option to be buried on the southeastern side of South Dakota. Back in October, the city of Sioux Falls donated more than 60 acres of land on the northeast side of town for this cemetery.
It may look empty now, but Aaron Pollard, Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs looks forward to the future of this land.
“Every time I come out here, I’m kind of taken aback by house peaceful it is out here. The wind kind of always gently blows out here and I think when you walk on the property you can just tell that this was kind of meant to be a place of significance, a place to remember, a place to honor,” said Pollard.
Designs are 95 percent complete and construction could begin as early as this fall. The cemetery will be constructed with locally sourced materials such as Sioux Quartzite.
“We’re making sure that we get it right and we’re making sure that the cemetery, while it will be maintained to national cemetery standards, it will be a uniquely South Dakota veterans cemetery,” said Pollard.
The nearly completed design is getting veterans like Ken Teunissen excited.
“It’s awesome because for over 20 years the Veterans have been trying to get an east river veteran cemetery,” said Teunissen.
The cemetery will offer plots in 12 different phases, each taking 10 to 15 years to fill. The first phase will take up about 10 to 12 acres and include around 2,300 gravesites. A huge flag will be flown on top of this hill, which will be seen for miles. Also, many of the trees will be preserved. The main focus of the cemetery will be the committal shelter.
“It will be a brief service and then the military service honors that would take place,” said Pollard.
Pollard can’t wait for the project to be completed.
“We’ll have a brand new gathering place that’s significant and to where veterans and non veterans together can come and we can be together and just celebrate the sacrifices and celebrate the services,” said Pollard.
Within 120 to 150 years the cemetery will hold around 28,000 gravesites for veterans and their family members.