BELDING, Mich. — The Veterans Freedom Park unveiled several new and updated monuments on Monday, raising many of the funds during the pandemic by collecting and returning thousands of pop cans.
The Freedom Park exists today because of Denny Craycroft, a veteran himself who passed in 2019. He got the approval for construction back in 2012, and was there for each new milestone.
On Monday, his daughter Holly helped unveil a bronze statue honoring her father.
“Nothing told of who started the park and why,” she told FOX 17 Monday afternoon.
“People that have been here that knew him can say, hey look at what he did, look at this beautiful place.' And that's what it's here for."
Next to Denny is another of the statues unveiled Monday, this one honoring our K9 soldiers.
"We’re down to only a couple of monuments left. We've done so much in this last year. The community has been phenomenal and they’ve stepped up," Holly said.
Some finishing touches were also done on a monument dedicated to those that served in the Persian Gulf. And a Blue Star Mothers monument, as well as a statue of a soldier waiting for a train were also unveiled.
"We want people to know their names, to know who they are. We want families to come and see what they have given for us," Holly said.
The statues were in large part funded by a pop can collection drive. Holly's niece and nephew helped return thousands of the cans themselves. The youngsters were in attendance for Monday's ceremony.
The bronze statues were completed by artist Ari Norris, who sculpted Denny's likeness by watching old videos of him at the Freedom Park.
“As far as being an artist goes, I don’t think there’s a higher honor than recognizing a hometown hero like Denny, so it's been a really rewarding process,” Norris told FOX 17 Monday.
All in an effort to give our military men and women the recognition they deserve.
“His vision was not for a memorial park. His vision was for a freedom park, and that's what he wants. He wants to give veterans their freedom, their freedom to come here and feel their emotion and mourn for their fellow veterans,” Holly said.
The board for the Belding Veterans Freedom Park are still looking for several feature pieces to display within the park. They are looking for folks to donate a Huey Helicopter, a tank and a train car.
If you have any of those items or know someone who does, you can reach the board through their website.
They are also always looking for donations to help maintain the park and fund future monuments.