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Inside KELOLAND: Remembering those who served pt. 1

todayMay 11, 2024 2

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — This special Inside KELOLAND is focused on remembering the lives of men and women who have served our country, specifically in World War II.

Preserving history has become a big focus for the Battleship South Dakota Memorial.

The memorial began its 55th season as a military museum earlier this month. Dedicated in 1970, the museum highlights the important roll the battleship played in WWII, along with the stories of the sailors that served aboard.

For years, reunions brought the former crew together but as numbers have dwindled the events has changed to a Day of Honor.

Another memorial will soon bring recognition a group of veterans considered unsung heroes of World War I and World War II.

South Dakotans from the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota nations served as code talkers during the wars. They formed a small unit, known as the Lakota Code Talkers.

Now, after years of work their service is being honored with a life-size statue depicting one of South Dakota’s Code Talkers.

State Rep. Tamara St. John talks about the history and the effort to honor the code talkers.

WWII soldiers receive Purple Hearts

The code talkers are just one example of how Native American veterans have been forgotten over the years.

In 1986, Native American Vietnam veterans from KELOLAND joined others in Washington, DC for a dedication of their own after feeling left out of other memorials. We dug into our KELOLAND archives for a report from Linda Faulkerson.

It would take several more decades before recognition was given on a national scale. The National Native American Veterans Memorial opened in November of 2020 on the National Museum of the American Indian.

Back in South Dakota, the legacy of a WWII nurse will soon be enshrined with a construction of a new Sioux Falls school.

Marcella LeBeau Elementary is expected to open in Fall 2025. LeBeau was a member of the Native American Hall of Fame and has received international honors for her work during the war.

Written by: The Dam Rock Station

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