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About the World War II Memorial

Governor William J. Janklow announced in March 2000 the construction of a World War II Memorial on the Capitol grounds to pay tribute to all the past and present South Dakotans who contributed to the World War II effort.

South Dakota rallied to country’s defense and provided vital support to the war effort on the front and the home front. South Dakota participated in many ways in the war effort including:

• 68,000+ South Dakota men & women enrolled in the armed services.
• 2,200+ servicemen gave the ultimate sacrifice and never returned home.
• South Dakota was home to seven military establishments during World War II.
• South Dakota was vital to the Red Cross and USO efforts to support our troops overseas.
• South Dakota continued its agricultural production to feed the country and our troops during World War II and for the world relief effort following the war.
• South Dakota supported the financing of the war by purchasing War Bonds.
• South Dakota schools and teachers were vital to preparing students for entry into military service during the war years.

These men and women are our relatives and neighbors. They came from the farms and small towns across South Dakota to do what they could for our flag — for our country — and for our freedom!

The memorial is an everlasting monument to thank them and immortalize their bravery.

Memorial Design
The memorial consists of six bronze figures representing the branches of service in which South Dakotans served during WWII. They are portrayed as warriors fresh from battle; the memories burnt into them of the horrors and atrocities of war as well as, the acts of selflessness, bravery and valor. They are not intended to be polished soldiers on parade, rather warriors in the field of honor. They are to be a reminder for all of us what would the world be like today if the United States of America and the Allied countries had not prevailed in World War II.

They are set on a peninsula that was constructed into Capitol Lake. The bronze warriors face the current Korean and Vietnam Memorials and flaming fountain. The figures are from six feet to six feet seven inches in height. They weigh close to two tons. A native Dakota granite stone is in front of the bronzes and is inscribed with “South Dakota WWII Warriors: Why they fought—For Flag—For Country—For All of Us.”

The bronzes represent the branches of the service that South Dakotans participated in. The following are the artist’s descriptions of the bronzes from left to right:

U.S. Marine Corps—tall marine in tattered uniform from the jungles of the South Pacific. He is carrying a slung Browning automatic rifle.

Woman Volunteer--portrayed as a nurse with medical kit and stethoscope ready to assist the wounded worldwide. She represents the WACS, WAVS, and the SPARS.

Sailor in his working uniform with bandaged hands from fighting an onboard fire. He also represents those who received the Purple Heart.

Air Pilot dressed in flight gear and parachute, short stub of a cigar lit upon landing. He is armed with a .45 caliber pistol.

A representative of the Coast Guard and Merchant Marines is dressed in foul weather gear from duty in the North Atlantic and Pacific while watching the submarines or transporting war materials.

the U.S. Army GI is a Native American from the European Theatre. He was a “code talker” and is equipped with open ammo pouches and a Garand M-1 rifle held by the sling.
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