It is a grand memorial. A tribute to one of our troopers.
25 miles north and east of Grand Rapids in Michigan you'll find the town of Belding in Ionia County.
For a small community of 5,800 residents, once the “Silk City of the World” (1890), it has a Vietnam Memorial that rivals and replicates the venerable monument we consider sacred ground in our Nation's capitol. Complete with names engraved on black marble, a model of the “Three Grunts”and a black marble stand alone carved map of Vietnam, as well as other pillars, placards and flags it is a masterpiece and a fitting memorial to our fallen brothers..
On Memorial Day, May 27, 2019, it will finally dedicated by the honored guest speaker: Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, Jim “Doc” McCloughan, who also sang the National Anthem. It was a grand and triumphant ceremony only marred by the absence of 11th Air Cav Trooper Denny Craycraft.
Denny Craycraft, who served with the Legendary Blackhorse Regiment in 1969, spent years planning, coordinating, digging, collecting and leading the effort to establish this magnificent memorial. Denny organized and set up the program, produced and mailed the invitations only to pass away just the month before the Final Dedication. From his obituary we read that “Denny was the driving force in creating and building the Veterans Park/Belding Freedom Wall in downtown Belding. He spent countless hours working with many groups and individuals on the wall, Memorial Day activities, the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Fund. If it involved Veterans Denny was on it. His endless energy and commitment to the welfare of our Veterans will forever be missed.” Denny died suddenly on 10 April 2019.
As his wife Ruth writes: “This is what Denny was looking forward to, HIS DREAM ... and many years of hard dedicated service to Vets.” In another note she added: “Thank you for your very touching letter. Of course we cried, but only because we love and are so proud of Denny's accomplishments and all of his wonderful comrades and friends that he has acquired along the way. Helping and honoring his fellow veterans was what Denny loved doing.”