May 27, 2020 — “There are a lot of families who have veterans and who are relatives of veterans. We want to support that long heritage of supporting their country,” said Megan Gerber, special projects coordinator for the Deadwood Pioneer Cemetery. “This area has a strong history of patriotism.”
The cemetery is celebrating that patriotism with the installation of the new Veterans Memorial Rock, which is located on the right side of the cemetery’s driveway. Over the next few weeks, Mapleton carver Mic Johnson will be working on the 11-foot-tall memorial, inscribing the phrase, “Dedicated to those who served in the US Armed Forces, and in loving memory of those who gave their lives in defense of our county.”
Medallions of the five main service branches will be inset above the inscription.
There are also plans to have small metal plaques on the memorial, where veteran’s names and information, living or dead will be inscribed.
Gerber stressed that any veteran can be honored in the plaques.
“We do want to make it clear that we’re opening to honoring all military veterans, not just those buried at Deadwood,” she said.
Sitting near the memorial is also a newly planted cremation scattering garden, which is covered with rhododendrons, hyacinths, Bleeding Hearts and azaleas. It’s part of a host of upgrades made to the cemetery over the years, including restorations of gravestones of veterans resting at the site.
“In Deadwood, we have more than three dozen veterans buried, including two from the Civil War and one from the Spanish American War,” Gerber said.
Volunteers have been working to restore and identify the gravestones, and replacing headstones that have been weathered with time.
The placement of the memorial is particularly important this year as the annual Pioneer Heritage Day event, held on cemetery grounds, had to be cancelled due to concerns over the current pandemic. Volunteers placed flags on all veterans’ graves before the holiday, but the placement of the monument on Memorial Day shows the community still cares about its veterans.
“It’s a chance for the cemetery to show how important veterans are to our community,” Gerber said.
The Deadwood Pioneer Cemetery is currently hoping to raise $2,000 to cover the remaining costs of the memorial.
To purchase a plaque for a veteran, or to make a donation, visit deadwoodcem.org, email the cemetery at [email protected] or call 541-999-2209.
For the plaques to honor veterans, up to three lines of text are allowed, as well as the service branch insignia if desired.