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Fallen service members honored at B.H. National Cemetery

(KOTA)
Published: May. 28, 2018 at 7:43 PM CDT
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To honor those who were in Killed In Action during the War on Terror, volunteers came out to stand in silence over their grave markers Memorial Day.

Eight community members stood in silence for half an hour at the Black Hills National Cemetery and one at a cemetery in Rapid City.

One of those standing guard over their fallen brothers was Mike Ball who was honoring Army Capt. Christopher Soelzer.

If they had ever met, there's a good chance they would have had some great conversations.

"Numerous things, he was a young man I think he was 24 when he was killed," said Ball. "I was 67 when he was killed, so we didn't have much in common, but we were soldiers, so we'd talk soldier stuff."

Ball himself served 6 years in the Navy and 22 years in the Army.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) also paid their respect to the fallen in a separate ceremony.

According the Department of Veterans Affairs, Native Americans serve at a high rate and have a higher concentration of female service members than all other service members. In WW II alone, 44,000 Native Americans served between 1941 and 1945. The total Native American population was less then 350,000 at the time.

"It's always important to remember our veterans who served and protected our country and our way of life...our freedom," said CRST Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier. "So it's always important that we remember them and we honor them and we need to do that throughout the future. If it wasn't for them we wouldn't be enjoying the things that we do today."

The theme for this year's event is "Never Forget, Ever Honor."

"South Dakotan's, if you look at it proportionally relative to our population size have always sent in every major conflict we had our young men and women in harms way to defend our freedoms," said Sen. John Thune ,(R) South Dakota. "The Native American community here in South Dakota - our Native American warriors even more so...one of the highest in terms of sign up rates, willingness to serve, they really answer the call and so it's a great tribute to them and to the state for they way I think that our young people get raised.