Black Hills National Cemetery prepares for Memorial Day

Headstones at the Black Hills National Cemetery lined with flags.
Headstones at the Black Hills National Cemetery lined with flags.(KOTA/KEVN)
Published: May. 29, 2022 at 5:12 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The day before Memorial Day, the Black Hills National Cemetery gets a change. Lines of white headstones get an American Flag placed in front of the grave. The cemetery is a special place for many to be at for Memorial Day.

“We got, I think really lucky in this area, the Black Hills have always been patriotic. Everybody just comes out and supports all of the functions. We got a lot more people than even I thought would show, I knew it would be a good turnout, but this is great,” says Robert Bishop, a volunteer with Military Honor Flags USA.

To tackle nearly 23,000 headstones, a large group of volunteers is needed. As groups scattered the cemetery in an orderly fashion, the cemetery director jumped in to help the teams.

Black Hills National Cemetery Director, Terry Corkins said, “Hundreds and hundreds of volunteers, from, you see children with their parents, you see mothers, you see veterans. You see, you know of all walks, who truly understands what Memorial Day is all about.”

While there is a maintenance team at the cemetery year-round, it’s people who take time out of their day on special occasions like Memorial Day, that uplift communities and veterans.

“You know it’s a great feeling, it fills your heart to know that all of these volunteers are out here, their own time, their own effort, nobody forced them,” said Bishop

It’s a simple look at the people sprawling the Black Hills National Cemetery that reminds Corkins of why he enjoys his job, “One of my joys of working out here is being able to share the stories with some of the widows and some of the brothers and some of the fallen. I have family members buried here as well, and I’s a true honor to walk the cemetery and help a widow find their grave and hear her stories. And they’re willing to share their stories with me and it’s, you know it’s rewarding that sense.”

Listening and being an ear is a joy for the cemetery director. The rest of the team at Black Hills National Cemetery and Military Honor Flags USA have planned the flag placing for Memorial Day for nearly a year, Corkins says, “We all take a lot of pride, it’s a great honor what we get to do every day to give back to our veterans.”

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