- Associated Press - Monday, December 7, 2015

SPEARFISH, S.D. (AP) - Officials in Spearfish have unveiled the first granite wall in a veterans monument that has been years in the making.

More than 900 names are etched on the first wall that was unveiled in a Sunday ceremony. It came five years after the formation of a fundraising committee.

The monument honors veterans from Spearfish who have served honorably, dating to the Spanish-American War. There eventually will be five walls, symbolizing the five branches of the military - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

“This is a community that takes pride in its veterans,” said Boyd Dean, a member of the fundraising committee. “They’ll know that this community honors its veterans and that a lot of history is etched into these walls.”

World War II and Korean War veteran Arne Koski attended Sunday’s ceremony and said it’s a day he will never forget.

“It was great to see that there,” he said of his name on the black granite wall that weighs more than a ton. “It’s really neat; you know, my son, he inscribed it on a piece of paper already. I’ll get one later. A lot of people are doing that and it’s great, it’s really great and an honor.”

The monument’s cost is estimated at about $250,000. The fundraising group passed the halfway point last spring and is continuing its efforts, according to Dean.

“We still have a ways to go, but what a great start,” he said.

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