The Janisch family of Eden, S.D., are patriots. Francis Janisch, who passed away four years ago, served his country as a U.S. Army paratrooper from 1954-1956. His son, Jim, wanted to honor his father's service to his country. So in May 2015, he erected a flag in his honor on Janisch's land on a hillside beside Marshall County Road 16, just 4.5 miles east of Eden. But what Jim envisioned to be only a flag quickly became so much more than that, prompted by a remark by a local veteran who stated to Jim, "You're all right."
So Jim and his relatives and friends got busy. First, they had to transform what had been a cow pasture into a suitable setting for a memorial. Following the flag was a 15-foot white wooden cross. Round paver stones were painted white and then painted with the names of each of the services on them, in red or blue. They were installed on dark red or blue shredded rubber backgrounds. POW and MIA are also there, of course, taking their hallowed place of honor. A 650-pound eagle looks out over the memorial. Statues of six soldiers and two angels stand guard at the site. And last, but certainly not least, there are the flags -- the United States, South Dakota, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, POW-MIA and the six service flags. They are great to see blowing in the wind, which blows most of the time in eastern South Dakota. A white fence borders the memorial, which is lighted at night. It is a moving, very dignified sight.
Several individual servicemen are honored here, as they gave their lives in war. James Cleveland, a brother of Roy Cleveland who lives in the area, lost his life in Vietnam. Roy has closely followed the construction of the memorial, which took Jim and his helpers two weeks. More is planned to be added in 2016, including the Statue of Liberty and six spruce trees which will form a background to the memorial. As is typical of many people in this area and in the country, Jim is a modest person who states that this is not about him, but about the veterans who gave so much for their country. And so it is.
A large sign at the site reads, "Francis Janisch Family Salutes our VETERANS, Visitors Welcome." And the visitors are coming as word of the memorial spreads. In fact, over 3,000 have signed the guest book so far, with visitors from over 30 states as well as Germany and Bosnia. So it is not just the local people who have stopped by to pay their respects. Many of the visitors are emotionally moved by the memorial. It is such an unusual thing to be erected on these rolling prairie hills, on the glacier-formed Coteau des Prairie (Hills on the Prairie) in northeast South Dakota.
If Legion members or their friends want to see something very special and unique, they can do no better than to visit the memorial in the spring, summer or fall.