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‘Freedom’s not free’: Gold Star Families Memorial unveiled

Sep 26 2022
Renee Ortiz | KELO

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Families and veterans gathered at Veterans Memorial Park in Sioux Falls for the unveiling of a new memorial meant to honor the men and women who died in action.

“The monument was beautiful, it was beautiful,” said Carol Campbell, Gold Star Sister.

The Gold Star Families Memorial was unveiled today to honor the 3,000 South Dakota soldiers who died in action as well as the families they left behind.

“He knew better than anyone that freedom is not free,” said Dan Wagner, Gold Star Brother.

One of the Gold Star families at the ceremony was the family of Greg Wagner. He was a Staff Sergeant in the South Dakota National Guard.

“He was always really good about giving a smile and he always had time for everybody,” Campbell said.

Wagner was killed in action in 2008 while serving in Baghdad, Iraq. His sisters Joni and Carol say the memorial is a beautiful yet sad reminder of his sacrifice.

“You keep thinking well maybe after this many years, maybe it won’t seem so gut wrenching, but you just miss him,” said Joni Osnes, Gold Star Sister.

“It still doesn’t get any easier when you have events like this, it brings up so much, but it also makes you feel so grateful for the support,” Campbell said.

Steve Wagner says this memorial ensures no one forgets the many sacrifices soldiers like his brother gave in service to the country.

“Freedom’s not free, there is a price, and although you don’t like to be the ones that are in the situation, I am very honored to be here. It was a really heartwarming day,” Wagner said.

Over 70 gold star families, businesses and organizations donated over $100,000 to build the memorial.