RAPID CITY, SD – An update to the Black Hills War Monument is underway, with plans for an unveiling later this year. The goal, says Ed Manzano, president of the Black Hills War Monument Association is to bring the public space current in its representation of all U.S. wars and conflicts.
“The newly formed Black Hills War Monument Association, consisting of retired military members and civilian Gold Star relatives, has been planning an upgrade to the BH Veterans Monument since June 2021,” he said.
“This upgrade will cover the War on Terror Conflicts from 2001-2021, also honoring Cold War and POW/MIA servicemen from the Black Hills. In addition, the monument upgrade will add military service flags, the POW MIA flag, and state of SD Flag to the monument site, and will erect walls of granite name, rank, and military branch of 700 soldiers by name, rank and military branch, killed in wars over the past 100 years.”
He continued, “The theme “NEVER FORGET” will be inscribed on the bottom of each slab of granite.”
Organizers decided to re-evaluate the area from which soldiers, sailors, and airman would be represented at the War Monument, that is located in downtown Rapid City at the corner of 5th and Omaha streets.
“The Black Hills is comprised of many counties. There are 10 counties that compromise a 75 mile radius around Rapid City including Custer, Lawrence, Meade, Butte, Pennington, Oglala Lakota, Bennet, Haakon, Jackson and Bennet Counties. Names on the monument are only those who died in the wars, not all veterans who served,” explained Manzano.
How organizers have sourced names to be included on the monument has been thorough and is ongoing.
“At the end of every war, every sate publishes a list by county of all of the casualties,” he notes. “We resourced that information. In addition, I found published books that had additional names – some how a name will make one list but not another one – and we’ve accumulated all the names we think represent the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen from the Black Hills who fought and died in those conflicts. There are about 700 names that will be engraved in the granite walls surrounding the monument.”
He added, “Sometimes, the public will have a name we don’t have. We’re always ready to add names. Space will be left to add more names because we don’t want to miss anybody.”
Manzano says fundraising for the updates to the Black Hills War Monument is coming primarily from individuals and corporate sponsorships. He explains how to donate or volunteer.
“On the website, there is a picture of what the monument will look like. Then scroll down for the online donation function. Using a credit card, people can make a one-time donation. Donors can also donate in the name or memory of a veteran. Funds are housed with the Black Hills Area Community Foundation and dispersed as needed for the project.”
He continued, “We also need veterans to help with maintenance of flags on site, all of which need to be maintained and cleaned and kept in perfect flying condition.”
A civilian and military ceremony in downtown Rapid City to dedicate the Black Hills War Monument is planned for 9/11 of this year.
Memorial Park where the monument is located is easily accessible, with plenty of parking, says Manzano. “Once it’s done,” observes Manzano, “it will be a wonderful destination for families with veterans or veterans themselves along with citizens who want to reflect on the heroes who died for our freedom.”
The Black Hills War Monument Association is a newly formed 501C3 non-profit organization, dedicated to building and maintaining the Black Hills Veterans Monument, and educating local students as well as the local population, about the heroic military heritage of service members from the Black Hills of Western South Dakota.
See more about the project and the Black Hills War Monument Association at www. https://bhwma.org/
Listen to the interview with BHWMA President Ed Manzano ON DEMAND