A Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was unveiled on Thursday, June 28, in Rock Creek, SD. More than 200 people attended the dedication ceremony.
Guest speakers included Standing Rock Chairman Mike Faith, South Dakota National Guard Brigadier General Marshall Michels, State Commander of the South Dakota American Legion Denny Brenden, and Secretary of Tribal Relations Steve Emery.
The senior enlisted military guests arrived by helicopter before the ceremony.
Events started at 1 pm with a color guard entrance, which consisted of the American Legion Post 82 from Rock Creek, American Legion Post 308 from Eagle Butte, and akicitas bonnet wearers.
Veterans from all eras and military branches sat front row around the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall. Some veterans wore uniforms, some wore caps with eagle feathers fastened on the top, and others wore vests with their service information on it.
Honor songs included the Lakota flag song, akicita songs, and an original song performed by Gilbert Kills Pretty Enemy, titled, “Vietnam Song”.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was covered with four star quilts designed in green, yellow, and red—the colors of the Vietnam Service Medal, which is awarded to military service members in recognition of their time served during the Vietnam War.
The four star quilts were removed, unveiling the names of 84 Vietnam veterans from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Seven of those names listed were killed in action.
The star quilts were then presented to four Vietnam veterans who were from the Rock Creek district.
While an honor song was performed, people lined up to shake hands with the veterans who were present.
The guest speakers were each presented with a star quilt and a thank you speech.
American Legion Post 82 performed a 21-gun salute, which was then followed by the playing of taps. Veterans presented arms, saluting until the last note fell silent.
After the ceremony concluded, a men’s northern traditional special was sponsored by Post 82. 15 dancers participated, all dancing to nine akicita songs.
“This event completes the circle and is here to heal and honor the ultimate sacrifice that these brave men gave,” said one spectator.