50th Anniversary of the Dedication
While the air proved crisp and the clouds stubborn, the large crowd, including a great many Native and non-Native dignitaries, were in no way deterred from attending the historic celebration, which marked the 50th anniversary of the 1948 dedication of Crazy Horse Memorial.
“We, the Crazy Horse and Standing Bear descendants, join the nation in stating: a job well done.” These were the words of support and encouragement shared by Dennis Compos, Chief Henry Standing Bear’s grandson, during the June 3rd, 1998, unveiling of the completed face of Crazy Horse. Compos addressed some 4,000 people who attended the unveiling and anniversary of the 1948 dedication. Compos’s grandfather, Henry Standing Bear, had invited Korczak Ziolkowski to the Black Hills in 1939 to carve a memorial of Oglala Lakota Leader Crazy Horse in order to honor all Native Americans. Standing Bear wrote in his letter “we would like the white man to know the red man has heroes also”.
Another speaker of note that day was Freedom Forum and USA Today founder and long-time Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation supporter, Al Neuharth. Neuharth, in his address, asserted that no one should ever doubt that the dream that began with the vision of Henry Standing Bear, came to fruition through the work and aesthetic skill of Korczak Ziolkowski, and was advanced by the sheer determination of Ruth Ziolkowski, will be achieved. Neuharth added that there should also be no doubt that Korczak’s promise to Standing Bear and his fellow Lakota leaders will be fulfilled.
Befitting of the magnitude of the occasion, the specially-made Crazy Horse flag that covered the face prior to the much-anticipated unveiling, was 110 feet wide, 90 feet high, and weighed 170 pounds. The specially-constructed stage that sat among the pine trees, in full view of the Memorial, towered four stories high. In addition, over 750 volunteers worked throughout the day shuttling, ushering, and assisting visitors. The anniversary ceremony and unveiling celebration concluded with the first blast of the next area of work on the humanitarian and educational project.
Following the 50th Anniversary, work shifted to the blocking out of the horse’s head. Since 1998, work has continued to be focused on the horse’s head . . .
This article is the twenty-seventh installment of a periodic chronology that will be published by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation on the history of the Memorial.
By: Dr. Jason Murray for the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation