SPEARFISH — The second wall at Spearfish Veterans Monument was dedicated Saturday, creating a perpetual wall to honor local service members. 

“Since this project began and since this first wall went up four years ago, the whole project has always been about education,” Boyd Dean, American Legion Post 164 member, said Saturday. “Educating ourselves about our service, and for those who come after us that can recognize that this community is proud of its veterans and that all of us serve something bigger than ourselves and that all of us call the small town in South Dakota home.”

The monument, located at Spearfish’s Indian Springs, will ultimately display five walls, representing the five branches of the military — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. 

The monument has a center pedestal with a flagpole, sites for all five walls, and benches. The committee plans to form a scholarship for students, as well. 

Names on the walls include living veterans and those who have served, dating back to the Spanish-American War, with room left on the walls to add names of those yet to serve in the United States armed forces.  

The first wall, located just to the west of the new wall, was dedicated in December 2015 has around 970 names while the second wall has just shy of 400 names so far. More names will be added as veterans submit their service documents to monument committee members.

Brian Hambek, American Legion Post 164 commander, was the event’s keynote speaker.

Hambek said the Spearfish Veterans Monument project has been in the works for nearly 10 years. 

“The men and women on both of these walls are often times referred to as heroes,” he said. “But I challenge you to find one name listed here on either one of these walls that will embrace or accept that title. Those who fought in times of war will say ‘The real heroes never came home.’”

Hambek’s name is listed on the first wall so the honor is not lost on him.

“The names listed on the first wall and (on part of the second wall) fought to preserve the very freedoms we enjoy today,” he said. “They have afforded others the path to do the same. None of these people listed here served their country in order to get their name on a wall - they did so to preserve our freedoms and our very way of life. Every name here has my everlasting respect and I only hope I can live my life to earn the respect of these engraved names and to those who follow.”

Following the unveiling and dedication ceremony, many stayed behind to do paper etchings of names engraved on the walls.

To learn more about the monument or to submit a name to be added to it, visit spearfishveteransmonument.org.

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