The honoring of Veteran’s Day often gets lost in the daily shuffle of activities. Many people fail to pause and reflect on what it means to be a veteran, to have served this county — or to have given the ultimate sacrifice.
Through Nov. 18, Yankton and area residents have a unique opportunity to remember, to celebrate and to thank 25 South Dakotans who have given their lives in that sacrifice. The South Dakota Fallen Heroes Banner Program is on display at GAR Hall in Yankton starting today (Tuesday) and running through Wednesday, Nov. 18.
“Last summer, Brooks Schild contacted me and told me there was going to be a display called the Fallen Heroes Banner Display,” said Dr. Wayne Kindle, Yankton High School Principal. “He told me it was to honor the men and women who have fallen in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Brooks asked me if I would check into it since he couldn’t, and see if we could get it in Yankton.”
Because of Kindle’s quick response, Yankton is only the third community in which the banner has been shown to the public.
“The South Dakota Department of Military and Veterans Affairs in Pierre had a number of criteria for displaying the banners, and they made a lot of sense,” Kindle said. “They wanted to make sure that the banners were honored and respected. They wanted it to be a well-lighted, indoor area.
“I requested that we have the display from Nov. 8-18 because I wanted to have it for Veteran’s Day. Quite honestly, I was very surprised that we actually got them.”
The display of 25 six feet tall by three feet wide banners are currently standing at attention in the Yankton Area Arts Association’s GAR Hall Gallery in Yankton.
The Fallen Heroes Banner Program was created to honor, respect and remember those who have sacrificed their lives protecting our freedom, to do that organizers have had printed a banner for each fallen South Dakota soldier. Banners include photos and brief biographical summaries that have been selected by each soldier’s family.
Kindle said he knew that the event would evoke many memories for the community.
“For me, once it is all up and ready, I know it will bring back memories of our fallen men, and specifically, the community services here at the school,” he said. “Nobody has forgotten, but it is a reminder of the price that brave men have paid for our freedom.”
Kindle is encouraging all of his students to visit the memorial, but stressed it is meant to be a somber, respectful gathering. He added members of Yankton High School’s senior class were taking on the responsibility of setting up the display during their free periods.
“We hope that for the week that the display is open to the public, that it is standing room only,” he said. “These men gave their lives for our country. Take the time to honor the soldiers.”
The gallery is open to the public free of charge from 1-5 p.m. weekdays and from 1-3 p.m. Saturdays and has extended its hours this week and will be open from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15. The G.A.R. Hall Art Gallery and Yankton Area Arts are located at 508 Douglas.
For more information call 665-9754, e-mail Pam@YanktonAreaArts.org or see www.YanktonAreaArts.org.