BELDING, Mich. — On Monday, Memorial Day, a new statue was unveiled at the Denny Craycraft Veteran's Freedom Park honoring the men and women who served overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The new monument was just recently installed, and will eventually include a list of names and maps of both countries so those visiting can point out to others where they served. On Monday, the monument was revealed, with those etchings coming soon.
“They’ve come up with a gorgeous monument for us, it's phenomenal," said Holly Noble.
"And it's hitting home for us because these are the guys that are here now. We’re losing a lot of our other Veterans, Vietnam, and everyday it's another person that’s passing.”
Noble, whose father was Denny Craycraft, wants to make sure that Veterans who are still with us know just how much they are appreciated by the country they sacrificed everything to defend.
Patten Monument Co in Comstock Park created the new statue.
The park has been able to add monuments highlighting Michigan soldiers involvement in different military conflicts through the years. Many of the updates possible through the work done by the park's namesake, Denny Craycraft.
Craycraft told FOX 17 in 2017, before his passing, "One thing that I know all of us Vietnam Veterans have done... we’ve made commitments to ourselves that we would never ever let any Veteran be treated, coming out of a war zone, like we were treated. And I think we’ve done very well at that."
Noble says she feels blessed to continue her father's work.
“I don’t even know the word for it.. it’s peaceful, maybe, to know that he worked so hard because they were treated so badly when they came back, and we don’t ever want that to happen again,” she told FOX 17 Monday.
“We don’t want to be just another Veteran’s park, we want to be a park that has their names in it, has their faces here.”
Denny's efforts also carried on by friends of his like Craig Gregory.
“The last time I came home I didn’t even wear a uniform. I threw my military gear in a dumpster, because we were treated so bad," Gregory said Monday.
He has lots of wonderful memories of his friend Denny, and these days puts a lot of his energy into keeping the park in beautiful shape.
“They gave up a part of their life to serve in the war, or they paid a part of their life to serve in the service," Gregory said.
"I don't care if they never left the United States... They took 2 or 3 or 5 or 8 years out of their life to serve our country. They should be honored.”
You can find more information on the Denny Craycraft Veteran's Freedom park at their website. They are always looking for donations and volunteers.
They are also in the process of trying to locate a tank and a "Huey" Helicopter to place in the park. If you have any leads on where they might find either, you are encouraged to reach out.
You can do that at their website or by calling (616) 894-5488.