National Cemetery Administration
Fort Meade National Cemetery
Office Hours: Contact Black Hills National Cemetery
Monday thru Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed federal holidays.
Visitation Hours: April thru October open daily from sunrise to sunset. Closed November thru March.
Fort Meade National Cemetery is closed to new interments. The only interments that are being accepted are subsequent interments for veterans or eligible family members in an existing gravesite. Periodically however, burial space may become available due to a canceled reservation or when a disinterment has been completed. When either of these two scenarios occurs, the gravesite is made available to another eligible veteran on a first-come, first-served basis. Since there is no way to know in advance when a gravesite may become available, please contact the cemetery at the time of need to inquire whether space is available.
From Interstate 90 Exit 34, turn right to the gravel goad, Bureau of Land Management Road, east approximately four miles. Cemetery is on the right. From South Dakota Highway 34/78, one mile east of Sturgis is a gravel road to the cemetery that has a sign stating Fort Meade National Cemetery. This is near the west gate at Fort Meade VA Medical Center. Follow the gravel road approximately 1½ miles. Cemetery is on the left.
Fax all discharge documentation to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-866-900-6417 and follow-up with a phone call to 1-800-535-1117.
Fort Meade National Cemetery is managed by the Black Hills National Cemetery located at 20901 Pleasant Valley Drive in Sturgis, S.D.
The cemetery is located along a gravel road leading from the Fort Meade VA Medical Center and is surrounded by land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. This road is closed during the months of November through March.
Cemetery policies are conspicuously posted and readily visible to the public.
Floral arrangements accompanying the casket or urn at the time of burial will be placed on the completed grave. Natural cut flowers may be placed on graves at any time of the year. They will be removed when they become unsightly or when it becomes necessary to facilitate cemetery operations such as mowing. Flowers will be picked up on the first Thursday of each month
Artificial flowers and potted plants will be permitted on graves during periods when their presence will not interfere with grounds maintenance. As a general rule, holiday decorations and potted plants will be allowed on graves for a period extending 10 days before through 10 days after Easter Sunday. Memorial Day floral decorations may be placed the Friday prior to Memorial Day and must be removed by the Sunday following Memorial Day. Artificial flowers are allowed on graves starting the 2nd Saturday in October and must be removed by the 2nd Sunday in April.
Holiday wreaths, grave blankets and other seasonal adornments may be placed on graves from Dec. 15 through Jan. 20. They may not be secured to headstones or markers.
Permanent plantings, statues, vigil lights, breakable objects and similar items are not permitted on the graves. The Department of Veterans Affairs does not permit adornments that are considered offensive, inconsistent with the dignity of the cemetery or considered hazardous to cemetery personnel. For example, items incorporating beads or wires may become entangled in mowers or other equipment and cause injury.
Permanent items removed from graves will be placed in an inconspicuous holding area for one month prior to disposal. Decorative items removed from graves remain the property of the donor but are under the custodianship of the cemetery. If not retrieved by the donor, they are then governed by the rules for disposal of federal property.
VA regulations 38 CFR 1.218 prohibit the carrying of firearms (either openly or concealed), explosives or other dangerous or deadly weapons while on VA property, except for official purposes, such as military funeral honors. Possession of firearms on any property under the charge and control of VA is prohibited. Offenders may be subject to a fine, removal from the premises, or arrest.
Fort Meade National Cemetery is located approximately two miles east of the Department of Veterans Affairs Fort Meade Hospital, South Dakota. The Quartermaster Corps established the 2-acre cemetery here on Sept. 24, 1878, and the first interment was made on the same day. The cemetery closed 70 years later after only 188 interments.
Fort Meade was built in 1878 by the surviving troops of General George Armstrong Custer’s 7th Cavalry, to keep the peace among the Lakota and Cheyenne tribes and the prospectors. It was named in honor of Major General George G. Meade, whose victory in the Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War. In addition to being the home of the horse Comanche, sole cavalry survivor of the Battle of Little Big Horn, Fort Meade was also the birthplace of the national anthem. In 1892, Colonel Caleb Carton, appalled by the lack of a national anthem, ordered that the “Star-Spangled Banner” be played at the close of all concerts and parades, and later brought this effort to the attention of authorities in Washington, D.C. Subsequently, Secretary of War Daniel E. Lamont issued an order requiring the “Star-Spangled Banner” played at every army post every evening at retreat. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order making the “Star Spangled Banner” America’s national anthem, and in 1931 the bill was signed into law.
Fort Meade National Cemetery contains both government-furnished headstones and private monuments installed by family or friends. As a result, there are a number of distinctive gravesites, including some enclosed by wooden boards and ornamental pipe fencing. The diversity of the graves reflects the array of those laid to rest at Fort Meade. Enclosed by a wrought-iron fence, for example, is the gravesite of Otto Von Wargowski, only 30 when he died and apparently a member of the Prussian nobility. Not far away are two side-by-side graves marked as “Child of Civilian Refugee” and “Lucy, Child, Sioux Indian.”
Fort Meade National Cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 22, 1973.
Monuments and Memorials
An obelisk monument honors the memory of two soldiers from the 7th cavalry who, according to legend, died as a result of drinking wood alcohol while on patrol.
Bivouac of the Dead erected 2004.
Medal of Honor Recipients
Private Albert Knaak, (Indian Campaigns), Company B, 8th U.S. Cavalry. In Arizona, Aug. to Oct. 1868 (Section 2, Grave 101).
Private Abram B. Brant, (Indian Campaigns), Company D, 7th U.S. Cavalry. At Little Big Horn, Mont., June 25, 1876 (Section 2, Row 4, Grave 187 – Memorial headstone).
There are several Buffalo Soldier burials.