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Friday, November 10, 2017

A Salute to Veterans: Black Hills National Cemetery

The white gravestones march across the landscape, lined up in the military precision familiar to the soldiers who rest there.

The Black Hills National Cemetery is located just off I-90 between Rapid City and Deadwood. The the sounds of 18-wheelers and the rush of cars fade away as you drive through the gates to the cemetery.
Randy and I visited on a September day, a short detour as we traveled from the Rapid City Hospital, where his brother was being cared for, and his apartment in Deadwood.
I decided to save my blog post and photos until this Veterans Day weekend.
It was in 1947 that Congressman Francis Case endorsed the concept of a national cemetery in South Dakota. With the active support of South Dakota veterans organizations, the site was chosen just outside Sturgis in a portion of the Fort Meade Military Reservation.
The 105.9 acre parcel of land was transferred to the Department of the Army in 1948 for national cemetery purposes. The cemetery was designated the Black Hills National Cemetery in recognition of its location within an area of historical significance.
There are more than 29,000 members of the Armed Forces and their eligible dependents buried in the shadow of the Black Hills.
It's a solemn and quiet place.
One of the plaques at the cemetery reads:

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.

Because Randy's dad was a Korean War veteran, we stopped to pay our respects at the memorial for that war.
The American flag is flown 24 hours a day at the Black Hills National Cemetery. It stands in silent vigil honoring the lives and deeds of those who answered the call of duty in their nation's service.
On this Veterans Day, I thank all of those who have served our country in the past and those who continue to protect us as active duty personnel today. I also thank their families, who sacrifice their time with their loved ones to benefit us all.
This nation will remain the land of the free
 only so long as it is the home of the brave. ~Elmer Davis

For a look back at other Veterans Day tributes from The County Line, check these out:

20th Century Veterans Memorial in North Platte,  Nebraska
In Honor of Veterans, a tribute to my late father-in-law, Melvin Fritzemeier
American Hero, Part I and Part II (Vietnam POW)