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All Veterans Centennial Memorial

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On this date in 1989 the All Veterans Centennial Memorial was dedicated on the North Dakota Capital grounds in Bismarck. About 1,000 people attended the emotional event, which honored 4,050 North Dakotans who died serving their country since North Dakota became a state in 1889.

The open-air domed memorial is in the shape of a cube supported on pillars. Below the cube are 55 panels listing the names of the dead, and in the center is a bronze globe. The globe is situated so that at exactly 11am on November 11, the sun shines through a hole of the dome and onto North Dakota on the globe.

Bill Carey and Ted Will, two veterans from Bismarck, came up with the idea for the memorial in 1985. They formed a committee of over a hundred veterans to move the project forward. Even though the memorial was a part of the official North Dakota Centennial Commission, the veterans committee decided to not pursue state funds, but pay for the memorial through private donations. Those donations came from over 4,000 veterans clubs, fraternal organizations, businesses, and individuals from around the state. The memorial, which cost $300,000, was designed by Bismarck architect Warren Tvenge. The state of North Dakota takes care of the memorial’s upkeep.

The dedication ceremony included patriotic songs performed by the Northern Lights Chorus, a fly over of jets from the National Guard, and a keynote address by State Supreme Court Justice Herman Gierke. Marjorie Greenley and Ethel Steen, two Gold Star mothers, laid wreaths at the ceremony.

A few months later, On November 11, hundreds of visitors watched as the sun beamed a stream of light through the dome and lit up North Dakota on the globe at 11am.

Names have continued to be added to the panels since the dedication. The first added name was that of Jeffry Olson, who died in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War.

The veterans honored by the memorial died in the Spanish American War, Mexican Border Campaign, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, and the Global War on Terrorism.

Dakota Datebook by Trista Raezer-Stursa

Associated Press, “N.D. Unveils New Memorial,” The Bismarck Tribune, June 11, 1989, pg. 1.
Associated Press “State’s Only Gulf Casualty on Monument,” The Bismarck Tribune, June 5, 1991, pg. 5B.
Dorsher, Mike, “N.D.’s Fallen Heroes get ‘Personal Kind of Memorial’,” The Bismarck Tribune, June 10, 1989, pg. 1A, 8A.
Dorsher, Mike, “Sun Does its Duty – Barely,” The Bismarck Tribune, November 12, 1989, pg. 10A.
Unknown Author, “All Veterans Memorial,” The Historical Marker Database, https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=44701, accessed May 13, 2022.  
Unknown Author, “Memorial of Our Own,” The Bismarck Tribune, February 26, 1985, pg. B1.

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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