PIERRE, SD – The Flaming Fountain Memorial at Pierre is one of the city’s most remarkable and recognizable landmarks. However, it needs a lot of repair.
“When we first moved here in the 1970s, there was a lot of water coming out of the fountain,” said John Moisan, a Vietnam veteran. Moisan was involved in the organization of various veterans events in the community and worked for the South Dakota Bureau of Administration for several years. “It was always on, no matter what. Then in the late 1970s, maybe early 1980s, the wind would pick up and put out the flames. Then, finally, the water flow started to decrease.
Decades of wear and tear and South Dakota’s infamous winters have deteriorated the memorial to where it is today. In a study commissioned by the South Dakota State Legislature, it was discovered that the mechanism that ignites the flame requires special attention, and the pipe that supplies the water has a major hole.
In total, repairs would likely cost millions of dollars.
“The importance of this memorial to South Dakota veterans is immense,” Moisan said. “People died in WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam, and they deserve a memorial for them. ”
Veterans groups, such as the Stone Era Veterans Association / Fort Pierre Vietnam (VEVA) have strongly advocated for such reparations, whatever the cost.
A number of fundraising efforts have been discussed over the years, but so far none have paid off. Advocates are hoping more responses and funding could arrive during the state’s legislative session next year.
“We would like to give the Flaming Fountain back to what it was, not only because it means a lot to Vietnam vets, but to vets from all walks of life,” said Ken Rausch, President of Pierre / Fort Pierre VEVA . “The memorial is not only for veterans, but also for police and rescue workers.”
Rausch and other advocates point out that the repairs could also save the state a lot of money in the long run. A leaking pipe, like the one currently in the ground, could potentially cause infrastructure problems for buildings in the area, such as the visitor center that adjoins the memorial and the State Capitol just upstairs. the hill.
The South Dakota Office of Administration did not respond to an email regarding an update on the memorial’s renovation efforts.