BELDING — The Korean War, proceeded by Word War II and succeeded by the Vietnam War, has come to be called over time as the “Forgotten War,” receiving little attention throughout history in comparison to other U.S. wars.
This Veterans Day in Belding, however, a monument erected solely for the veterans of the Korean War will stand proudly at the site of the Belding Veterans Park, as progress continues at a surprisingly quick pace at the new park.
Having just dedicated its last monument, the Veterans Appreciation Monument, this past Memorial Day, Belding resident and veteran Denny Craycraft, who spearheaded the effort to build the park, still had to pay for the monument before he could think about moving forward with the Korean monument.
But after donations poured in, including one final anonymous donation of $2,000 two weeks ago, the Veterans Appreciation Monument has been paid in full and now Craycraft has his sights set on the Korean Monument, which he believes is of upmost importance.
“All the monuments, all the wars, all the veterans, they all mean a lot to me, but we are losing our Korean veterans quicker than any other war veterans,” he said. “We need to get this built, so they can stand here and see it standing here for them.”
More than 50 donors from area businesses and organizations have contributed to the Veterans Park, which has neared $100,000 in total costs and now includes the Belding Freedom Wall, Veterans Appreciation Monument, hundreds of bricks inscribed with the names of area veterans, and soon, the Korean Monument.
With the help of donations, Craycraft said the progress of the park has moved faster than he could have ever imaged, evident by the large ceremony celebrated at the park this past Memorial Day.
“The people of this community just continue to step forward for their veterans,” he said. “It’s just incredible,” he said.
Craycraft has been working with Patton Monuments of Comstock Park, which has once again agreed to build a monument for the park first before accepting payment.
The monument will cost $7,100 to create and place at the park.
“We don’t have any of it raised yet, but the guys at Patton Monuments are kind enough to create the monument for us first and let us pay them afterward, just like they did with the first monument,” Craycraft said. “I believe people are more inclined to kindly donate to the cause once they see what they have in this town.”
The Korean Monument, like the Veterans Appreciation Monument, will be cut from granite rock from China and then shipped to Patton Monuments where it will then be inscribed.
It will read “Korean War — The Forgotten War, Freedom is not free,” and include the start and end dates of the war, along with the markings that include the cities of Pyongyang and Seoul.
According to Craycraft, an image of the national Korean Monument in Washington D.C. will be inscribed onto the rock.
Craycraft said he is encouraged by the number of bricks that have been sold, inscribed with the names of area veterans and placed in the foundation of the park.
Bricks can be purchased for $50, of which $25 goes back to the park to help pay for monuments and other additions to the park.
“You don’t have to be from around here to have a brick,” Craycraft said. “We want to honor and remember all veterans.”
Craycraft can be reached at (616) 550-6990 for more information or to donate.