KEYSTONE, SD: Over 35,000 people during a two-day series of events enjoyed a funIndependence Day Celebration at the Shrine of Democracy. Patriotism, military salutes and music over the spirit of the day.
Highlights of the celebration included Presidential re-enactors representing the four Presidents, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt participating in an in-character press conference providing their points of view on the presidency and answering challenging political questions from the audience. Both days re-enactors strolled the grounds answering questions, posing for photographs and enlightening their audience with short talks.
New recruits representing multiple branches of the armed forces were sworn-in during a ceremony conducted by the Ellsworth Air Force Base Commander Colonel Mark E. Weatherington. On stage during the event was the Missing Man Table with six empty places set representing those POW- MIAs who have not returned, but were there in spirit. The POW-MIA Honoring Ceremony described the significance of the missing man table as representatives from each branch of the military covered the places. The United States Air Force Heartland of America Band the Brass in Blue, a symphonic brass ensemble composed of ten brass players, a percussionist and a vocalist, provided music. They offered a rousing rendition of patriotic music and performed the national anthem during the evening lighting ceremony.
With assistance from Custer VFW Post 3442 and Operation Gratitude, visitors were provided with the opportunity to express their respect and appreciation to our U.S. Military. Thank you postcards written by 466 visitors will be mailed to deployed service members as well as wounded warriors.
Active duty military signed up for the new Annual America the Beautiful Military Pass providing them with free entry to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Passes cover entry fees at national parks, national wildlife refuges, amenity fees at national forests and other federal entry fee areas.
Lakota Hoop Dancer and Storyteller Kevin Locke taught the crowd dances, songs and signs.
Germans from Russia provided dance and cultural information. Junior Rangers completed activities and earned badges. Native flutist Sequoia Crosswhite provided music and stories at the Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota Heritage Village. For those who were camera ready, photo opportunities abounded including lessons on 3D digital photography presented by park partner CyArk. “The special events that we offered our visitors created a truly Hometown Independence Day
Celebration,” stated Superintendent Schreier. “We invite visitors to continue their summercelebrations by joining us for other activities throughout the season.”
Information about additional summer activities, link to the new park app or general park news is available online at http://www.nps.gov/moru or call Mount Rushmore National Memorial at 605-574-2523.
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 397 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at http://www.nps.gov.