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University to Research Veterans at Black Hills Cemetery

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by Associated Press

STURGIS, S.D. — A nearly $74,000 contract has been awarded to a South Dakota university to research stories of veterans buried at the Black Hills National Cemetery.

Staff and students at Black Hills State University will research the veterans’ history and the circumstances of their service, the Black Hills Pioneer reported. Thousands of people are buried at the sprawling cemetery near Sturgis that opened in 1948.

The contract from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration is part of the Veterans Legacy Program. The program has awarded similar research contracts to San Francisco State University and the University of Central Florida.

At Black Hills State, professor Cody Lawson said he hopes the 15 education students he’s supervising will help develop a history curriculum for elementary school students based on the research.

“Some have family members interred at the cemetery,” he said. “One of the objectives of the research is to find living relatives.”

Cemetery director Adrienne Benton said more than 27,500 people are buried at the Black Hills National Cemetery, including veterans and their spouses and dependents. She said the research at the cemetery, which covers about 106 acres, is part of an effort to “get the community involved with the nation’s cemeteries.”

Ronald Walters, the VA’s interim undersecretary for Memorial Affairs, said the contract will enhance memorialization of veterans at the national cemeteries.

“We want to empower communities of young learners to see themselves as agents of their own history, researching, writing and sharing their local history through the lens of veterans.”

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