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Veteran Groups advocate for Flaming Fountain Memorial reconstruction

The "Flaming Fountain" Memorial in Pierre, South Dakota pays tribute to all who have served the...
The "Flaming Fountain" Memorial in Pierre, South Dakota pays tribute to all who have served the state and the nation in the armed forces during times of foreign conflict.(Austin Goss DNN/KOTA)
Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 11:59 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. - The “Flaming Fountain” Memorial in Pierre is one of the city’s most notable and recognizable points of interest. However, it is in need of a lot of repairs.

“When we first moved here in the 1970s, there was plenty of water coming out of the fountain,” explained John Moisan, a Vietnam Veteran. Moisan has been involved in helping set up various veteran events in the community, and worked for the South Dakota Bureau of Administration for several years. “It was always lit no matter what. Then in the late 1970s, maybe early 1980s, the wind would come up and make the flames go out. Then, eventually, the water flow started to diminish.”

The "Flaming Fountain" Memorial in Pierre as it is intended to look.
The "Flaming Fountain" Memorial in Pierre as it is intended to look.(South Dakota Bureau of Administration | South Dakota Bureau of Administration)

Decades of wear, tear, and infamous South Dakota winters have deteriorated the memorial to the point it is at now. As part of a study commissioned by the South Dakota state legislature, it was discovered that the mechanism which lights the flame requires attention, and the pipe that supplies the water has a major hole in it.

All together, repairs would likely cost millions of dollars.

“The importance of this memorial to veterans in South Dakota is immense,” said Moisan. “People have died in World War One, World War Two, Korea, and Vietnam, and they deserve a memorial to them.”

Veteran groups, like the Pierre/Fort Pierre Vietnam Era Veterans Association (VEVA) have heavily advocated for such repairs, no matter what the price tag may be.

A number of fundraising efforts have been discussed over the years, but so far, none have come to fruition. Advocates are hopeful that more answers, and funding, could be coming during next years state legislative session.

“We’d like to get the Flaming Fountain back to the way it was, not only because it means a lot to Vietnam veterans, but for veterans from all walks of life,” said Ken Rausch, Pierre/Fort Pierre VEVA President. “The memorial is not just to veterans either, but police officers and emergency responders as well.”

Rausch and other advocates point out that repairs could end up saving the state a lot of money in the long run too. A leaky pipe, like the one in the ground now, could eventually lead to infrastructure problems for buildings in the area, such as the Visitors Center that neighbors the memorial, and the State Capitol just up the hill.

The South Dakota Bureau of Administration did not respond to an email regarding an update on renovation efforts on the memorial.