Veteran's Living Memorial

32 trees, six hopefully never with a name ... 26 local military personnel have fallen while serving the United States. Six extra trees will remain unmarked, hopefully forever. From left: Greg Weber, John Kangas, Floyd Bendickson, Hans Hanson, Bill Sumpter and Don Ferguson.

"You go by this place almost every day," said Hans Hanson. "Now when a little boy asks, 'What's that, Daddy?,' it can and should be talked about. It should be remembered every day."

Hanson has led a board of directors and a growing following of other volunteers in creating a legally registered Veteran's Living Memorial placed west of the American Legion in Philip. The memorial is to honor all those local military service personnel who have lost their lives while serving in any branch of the military since the beginning of World War I to the present.

"As far as we know, this might be the first living memorial in South Dakota and maybe in the United States," said Hanson.

Thirty-two medora juniper trees have been planted in rows. Twenty-six names of qualifying area service personnel have been listed. Those names will be put on separate 10"x16" plaques. One plaque will be imbedded in a ground level concrete base in front of each tree. The person's name, rank and service will be included. The creators of the memorial hope that no more names will ever have to added.

A white fence already surrounds the memorial and a matching gate will be added in the near future. Marsha Sumpter created the sign. Darrel Brooks, John Heltzel, Jerry Thompson and Don Ferguson helped with the fence. Students from the Philip High School senior Agriculture class helped plant the trees. As the volunteer and supporter list grows, so will local awareness of the project.

Plans are for all work to be completed before the Philip Centennial celebration. A dedication ceremony will be held then. Family members of the 26 honored are requested to contact Hanson to make reservations for that ceremony.