WWII memorial planned for Craig’s fallen heroes
April 4, 2015
World War II is widely known as one of the largest and most deadly wars in history, and Moffat County officials want to honor Craig's local veterans by building a WWII memorial.
Of the 50 million civilian and military deaths, 24 soldiers that perished in the war were from Craig.
The Museum of Northwest Colorado, along with city and county officials, want to honor those who died in WWII by placing a bronze statue somewhere within the city to "recognize the sacrifices that these individuals made," said Craig City Councilman Ray Beck.
Beck and museum director Dan Davidson highlighted that $33,179 is already available to resurrect a statue that's slated to cost around $60,000.
The museum's board approved $20,000 for the project, and the remaining $13,179 came from a Department of Local Affairs grant awarded to Moffat County and Craig by the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado.
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Davidson will raise the rest of the money through various fundraisers. Provisions with the grant state that the project must be complete by Jan. 31, 2016.
The statue will be a life-size replica of an infantry solider, Davidson said.
Once the statue is built and placed somewhere in the city, it will be another significant local symbol recognizing the United States military. In 1922, the city changed the name of Main Street to Victory Way, honoring World War I veterans, Davidson said.
After the WWII memorial is built, the museum will look at creating mementos for the Vietnam and Korean wars, but not until the WWII tribute is complete.
"World War II was a defining moment for the world," Davidson said, adding that it's important for Craig to recognize the history. To further highlight the historic war, the museum plans on building a website with the names, pictures and rank of the 24 men who died in WWII for people to visit.
Currently, three locations are being considered for the memorial: Alice Pleasant Park, Breeze Street Park or Veterans Park, located behind the Veterans of Foreign War building on Victory Way.
The Museum of Northwest Colorado already has a great deal of WWII memorabilia and relics from those who fought and survived the war, including a Nazi flag that a solider brought back from Munich, Germany, after the war ended in 1945.
Additionally, former United States Sen. Edwin Johnson, who served as a Senator during the war, was from Craig. Prior to his time as a Democratic U.S. Senator, he was the governor of Colorado from 1933 to 1937.
"He was one of the most powerful politicians who came out of Craig, by far," Davidson said. The museum has an entire exhibit honoring Johnson and his time as a politician.
After WWII ended, a Denver soldier sent Johnson the "bullet-riddled" bronze head of Adolf Hitler. Johnson had a photo of him taken in his Washington D.C. office of him with his foot on Hitler's head.
The Johnson Tunnel on Interstate 70 also upholds Edwin Johnson’s memory.
The museum is currently creating a WWII exhibit that will highlight a few of the artifacts it has collected from the war.
Also, the Wyman Living History Museum has many military artifacts for visitors to enjoy.
Reach Noelle Leavitt Riley at 970-875-1790 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @noelleleavitt.