Have you ever touched a piece of history and felt it live?
Seeing 84 names of United States servicemen preserved in black, pressed into the red fabric of a symbol they bled to destroy, filled my mind with empty thoughts. In a warm corner of The American Legion Sioux Falls Post 15 I began to shiver. Nearly seven decades before, a small fragment of “The World’s Greatest Generation” stood around this same Nazi Banner, and with the hands they used to liberate Europe, penned their names and the names of those who died beside them onto the fear forming fabric.
The rest is a mystery.
It’s been one year since we spoke with Gigi Hickey in Wessington Springs and much has developed. She has now connected with 32 families, acquired photos of several signers, and traveled to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans for the second time. Although the leads are starting to slow, each flattened wrinkle in the banners story seems to create another that Gigi attempts to smooth out.
"It’s been really rewarding, heart-warming...made connections with a lot of people that I deeply appreciated hearing about their father…”
Locating people using information relevant in the 1940s hasn’t gotten any easier. Regardless, Gigi has managed to locate 14 additional families since October of 2015. As the highlights on her roster of Cannon Company change, her methods of finding these men and their families remain largely the same. Local news publications, public libraries, and obituaries provide the most useful material. The simple lack of information associated with some names makes finding the men nearly impossible, and discovering others pure luck.
During her trip to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans Gigi spoke with a curator about the banner. The museum has a collection of over 500 Nazi flags/banners already and doesn’t accept additional donations. The curator, however, inspired by the unique story behind Gigi’s artifact, offered to take the banner and display it for a period of time. He wasn’t able to provide any additional information about the names.
Today the search is ongoing. As Gigi waits to discover the men who sent her mother this spoil of war years before she was even born, she and her brother discuss options for the banners permanent resting place. Although the exposure the banner would receive at the National WWII Museum is appealing, they both feel a more appropriate resting place would be somewhere in South Dakota.
Click here to link to Gigi’s website.