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About the Vietnam War Memorial

His jungle pack slung low, his rifle and K-bar at the ready, he moves cautiously through the muddy, waist-deep canals and razor-sharp elephant grass on another search and destroy mission. The air is heavy, hung with humidity and the sulfur stench of the smoke that still lingers from a recent nearby firefight. Overhead, he hears the “whomp, whomp, whomp” of the medevac chopper headed to the nearest field hospital with the day’s wounded. In one outstretched hand, he holds the dogtag of a fallen brother who won’t be making that trip, another young soldier whose innocence and bravery will one day be remembered on a wall of honor. He’s weary, in mind, body and spirit, fighting a war in appalling conditions, with no clear front, against an enemy who could be hiding anywhere and everywhere.

Photo by Keith Hemmelman
Located at the Capitol Complex - 500 E. Capitol Avenue - Pierre, SD
Dedicated September 15-16, 2006

As casualties increased and the war grew ever more unpopular in the United States, Vietnam soldiers heralded as heroes in the jungles were condemned as no better than criminals in their hometowns. The South Dakota Vietnam War Memorial takes one soldier, as a symbol of the many South Dakotans who served during this violent conflict, and elevates him to the status they all deserve: brave individuals who served their country at a time when it took as much courage to come home as it did to fight.
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