Caring for the most sacred ground - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Caring for the most sacred ground

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All across the country families and friends of fallen soldiers have made their way to cemeteries to pay their respects. There is plenty of preparation involved but what goes in to making sure a heroes final resting place is cared for all the other 364 days?

They are adorned with a "Star-Spangled Banner" or a bouquet of fresh flowers, but making sure the tombstones of fallen heroes get the recognition they deserve, takes a lot of work.

"This is the other sacred ground of the catholic church and we need to maintain it and we need to make it a beautiful sacred place that's what I want, to make it a better more beautiful sacred place than what it already is." said Dan Johnson, the executive director of St. Michael's Catholic Cemetery.

The grass has been a constant project due to the slow spring thaw and making sure the grounds remain undisturbed required a new fence.

"We have a responsibility to care for the cemetery and we have 300 (cemeteries) in our diocese, this of course being the biggest in Sioux Falls and we need to care for it and keep it up in honor of those who are buried here and the families who come to visit and remember them here." said Bishop Paul J. Swain of the Sioux Falls Catholic Diocese.

Whether it's by watering the flowers or helping to fund projects, the church body has stepped up. One donor paid for the entire $90,000 fence.

"I am truly blessed to have this and that people come and donate, it is just wonderful." said Johnson.

The new look St. Michael's hosted the memorial day mass to honor Sioux Falls' fallen soldiers. At the VA, veterans and civilians alike also celebrated in the hopes that the sacrifice of the few isn't soon forgotten by the many.

"The youth coming up today that are going to be joining the service have always got to remember the past veterans who served and what they sacrificed for." said Dick Pickering, a Vietnam veteran of the US Navy.

As the fife and drums slowly fade, families are allowed to meditate on the memory of loved ones and find a little peace in the process.

"To see all the flowers and flags it is just beautiful to look out over the cemetery, when I got here this morning I looked to the southwest and there was a beautiful rainbow there and I thought, thank you Lord it's going to be a great day." said Johnson.

In addition to the new fence, St. Michael's will also be planting ivy to give the cemetery even more privacy to families as they honor the memories of loved ones.
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