When my second grader came home from school and said he had a homework assignment due at the end of the week I thought we'd be working on it at home in the evenings as usual. It was when he told me he had to write a report on the word "memorial"  the wheels started turning.

I told my son about the U.S.S. South Dakota Battleship Memorial. We'd seen it from W. 12th street many times but have never turned in for a closer look. Here's what we discovered about the once great battleship.

The USS South Dakota (BB-57) was launched June 7th, 1941 and commissioned March 20, 1942. The ship was part of a state-of-the-art class of heavily armed battleships. She served in the Pacific, present for nearly all of the major naval battles of the Pacific theater of war.

The US Navy wanted to keep the enemy from gaining too much information about its top battleships, so the South Dakota was referred to in press releases as "Battleship X" until October of 1943.

And, did you know, the youngest U.S. serviceman during WWII, Calvin Graham, boarded the U.S.S. South Dakota after enlisting in the Navy at the age of 12? It's true! I'll bet he had some intriguing stories when he returned to the 7th grade after the war.

His mother revealed his real age upon his return and Calvin spent three months in the brig for lying to the U.S. Navy. Thanks, mom!

The most decorated warship of World War II, the South Dakota was decommissioned shortly after the war in 1947.

The USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial features a concrete wall that mimics the actual size and shape of the battleship. Although the ship was sold for scrap in the 1960s, several pieces of its original equipment have been acquired for display. In addition, the museum on the site features pictures, models, and reading about the history of the battleship.

The U.S.S. South Dakota Battleship Memorial museum is open Memorial Day through Labor Day so we weren't able to see that part of the memorial. We will be the first ones there when it reopens in 2013.

Being a fan of history this was the best homework assignment...ever,  for dad.

Dan Collins

When was the last time you've been to U.S.S. Battleship memorial? If it's been a while, it's time to visit again. Please comment below if you found the experience enriching. Thanks!




U.S.S. South Dakota Battleship Memorial

12th St. & Kiwanis Ave.

Southwest Corner of Intersection

Sioux Falls,  SD