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 September 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.