“Freedom is not free”: locals hold wreath-laying at soon-to-be-updated Black Hills War Monument

RAPID CITY, S.D. — On Monday, Rapid City marked the Memorial Day holiday with a ceremony downtown.

Dozens gathered in Memorial Park, dodging the rain to pay their respects to those that paid the ultimate price.

“The event is simply to honor those that have died,” says Ed Manzano, the president of the Black Hills War Monument Association. “We set aside one day a year; Congress made it a law in 1971 that the last Monday in May would be Memorial Day to honor those that have fallen in our wars.”

Local military organizations also arrived to pay their respects, while an honor guard stood watch and performed a traditional ceremonial volley and played taps.

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Capt. Don Smith (photo courtesy: veterantributes.org)

Ryan Skjoldal, the commander of the Post 22 American Legion Honor Guard, says, “It is important for us to do this, because we need to continue to honor the people that have served before us. Without that, we would be nowhere as a nation.”

Among the crowd were family members of those South Dakotans killed or missing in action — like the first cousins of Captain Don Smith, a Doolittle Raider who was born and raised in Belle Fourche. Smith flew the 15th plane in the Raid, survived  and was killed in action over Western Europe in 1942.

“Well I think that we — all of us — just show our appreciation for what these people did, our family members did, and what they did and the services that they did for their country,” says Smith’s surviving first cousin, Mary Ann Noziska.

Whether you’re working, vacationing, barbecuing or spending time with family, Manzano urges people to remember what the day is really about.

“It’s important that we never forget that freedom is not free,” Manzano adds. “Freedom has always come with a cost and with a price, and that’s usually been shed in blood.”

The Black Hills War Monument Association is working to upgrade the existing war memorial located near the corner of 5th and Omaha Streets in Rapid City. Manzano says they hope to dedicate the new additions of the memorial on September 11, 2022.

CLICK HERE for more information on the Black Hills War Monument Association.

Categories: ConnectCenter1-Military, Local News, South Dakota News