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Front and center of this memorial is a unique engraving of fighter planes flying above South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore National Park. This stone is etched with military emblems of all branches of service. An etched bench sits close to the monuments for visitors to take in a quiet moment. An ivory statue of a weeping angle sits beside the pillars with Veterans names engraved in them. Above are seven American flags with a POW/MIA flag. The memorial stands of the south side of Brandon, a community just a few miles east of Sioux Falls.

BVMS Art Installation at Brandon Veterans Memorial:

If you stroll toward the Brandon Veterans Memorial, it would be difficult not to focus on the sea of red. Bright red, glossy, ceramic poppies have been placed throughout the Memorial to honor our Veterans. Brandon Valley Middle School Visual Arts teacher Erin Rieff and her 7th and 8th grade students created these poppies. During the school’s fine arts night, members of the community created them as well. They were placed in the ground to honor Veterans this month as we observe Memorial Day.

The idea originated from an art project in 2014. Artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper filled a moat beside the Tower of London with hundreds of thousands of poppies. Titled “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red”, the project marked 100 years since Britain was in WWI. Each poppy represented the 888,246 British soldiers who died in that war.

“Seeing that video about this art project was a beautiful, yet haunting”, said Rieff.

Rieff and her students talked about how art can be a form of expression, and it can also be a way to commemorate people.
“With everything going on in the world, our kids are subject to so much negativity, said Rieff. “I wanted to stress to the kids that they can make a positive impact through art to the Veterans and our community.”

The poppies will be on site until this Sunday but need to be removed for lawn maintenance of the Memorial Park. They will be available for sale at the Brandon Middle School beginning next week for $5 each or for a free-will donation. The poppies will also be distributed to the VFWs in Brandon and Valley Springs.

The funds raised will first offset the supplies needed for create the poppies, as the ceramic glaze is quite costly at $90 per gallon. Once the supply costs are covered the remainder of the money raised will go to the local VFWs.


Stone Group Architects (SGA) is a proud supporter of our Veterans and Military Memorials. While we are strong supporters, SGA is independent from the memorials and does not claim responsibility of building or funding these memorials. SGA is a verified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small business (SDVOSB) architectural firm, providing planning and design services to a variety of government clients.

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