Custer Veterans Memorial
Written by Dolsee Davenport
November 20, 2020

I don’t know about you, but I swear every time I walk by the Veterans Memorial there’s something new to see that makes it an even more beautiful space.  My mom and I happened to be out for a walk on the Mickelson Trail on Native American’s Day when a few volunteers were at the Memorial testing out the temporary flagpoles in the front landscaped area.  This got me thinking about how much the Memorial has changed in the last few years that I’ve been with the Chamber.

The original idea came in 2012 from former Custer Mayor, Gary Lipp who mentioned the idea to former city councilman, Jim Hattervig who was the commander of the VFW at the time.  After the initial discussions, a non-profit was formed called the Custer Area Veterans Memorial Association.  The official groundbreaking and ribbon cutting happened in September of 2012 with various veterans along with members of the city and county and Chamber of Commerce in attendance.  The official dedication happened on November 11 (Veterans Day), 2018.  Even though the dedication marked the “completion” of the Memorial, much has been done since then.

In the past couple of years, multiple benches have been installed, a concrete pad has been poured in front of the Memorial to be used for dropping people off and event purposes, and a lot of landscaping/planters have been added to provide additional visual appeal.  In addition, the front of the memorial is now home to “12 sandstone blocks that were part of the original buildings of the State Veterans Home in Hot Springs.  They were donated to the park when the buildings were demolished for replacement by the present building.  Still visible on the blocks are original construction markings.  The sandstone blocks started protecting veterans of the Civil War and now stand guard at Custer’s Veterans Memorial Park.” 

There are still a few projects to be done at the Memorial including installing the final two black granite benches and then having an official unveiling of all of the benches.  They also have plans to add a picnic area and additional landscaping.  I imagine this will only encourage more and more people to stop down and enjoy the area.

If you would like to get involved, there are a couple ways to do that.  Memorial Bricks are the best way to honor your veteran and support the park.  Also, you could sponsor the final granite bench which is a great opportunity for an organization, family, or individual to honor all veterans.  And of course, donations are always welcome and important to improve the park.  Contact the association or City Hall for details.  Or click on this link to order a brick:

On behalf of the Custer Chamber, I would like to extend our sincere gratitude to everyone who has been involved in the Custer Veterans Memorial-those who have committed time, put in sweat equity, been involved in the committee, donated money, bought bricks, and the list goes on!  Thank you for everything you’ve done to create a beautiful space for all of us to enjoy, and an opportunity to honor all veterans and their service to our country.

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