Craig honors fallen vets on Memorial Day |

Craig honors fallen vets on Memorial Day

Noelle Leavitt Riley
Jeanie Gra, of Fruita, sits with her granddaughter Alyssa Fears, 2, of Craig, at the Craig Cemetery on Memorial Day. Roughly a hundred people gathered at the cemetery to remember the men and women of the United States who lost their lives in battle.
Noelle Leavitt Riley

— The crowd was silent as a group of United States war veterans read the names of Craig residents who lost their lives while fighting for their country.

Nearly a hundred people attended the Memorial Day ceremony at Craig Cemetery on Monday, with their heads hung low and flowers in hand. Some even shed tears.

“This means more than you can imagine,” said EJ Bunk, of Craig. “Forty-five years ago today, I was wounded in Vietnam. This is hitting me with a double whammy. I shouldn’t have made it through.”

Tears fell from his eyes as he tried to explain the emotion he has tied to honoring those who fought and died beside him.

“They’re our heroes, and they deserve the utmost respect,” Bunk said.

He was 19 when he was wounded in the arm by shrapnel. Some of his friends didn’t make it through battle that day, which will forever scar his memory of warfare.

Bunk is one of many who paid their respects at the cemetery, where a group of war veterans held flags and shot rifles to signify the end of the memorial service.

“We’ve done our share for freedom. I just hope the next generation can,” said Gilbert Meats, who served in the U.S. Navy. Meats stood beside his fellow countrymen and proudly shot his rifle into the air to honor those who died in battle.

Words such as honor, integrity, respect and freedom circulated the crowds as they talked about their brothers, fathers and grandfathers who fought and died for the United States of America and for freedom.

“We can’t forget for one minute what the people of our county in war gave up,” said Larry Nue, who served in the U.S. Army. “They gave up their lives, their family and everything else. We need to remember that.”

Carol Douglas, from Asheville, N.C., was in Craig visiting with her family and honoring her stepdad, David Stoddard, a veteran who is buried at Craig Cemetery.

“I was very, very, very fond of my stepdad, and I’m glad to be here today,” she said.

David Stoddard’s brother, Joseph Stoddard, is buried next to him.

Children of all ages joined their parents and grandparents to learn, listen and watch how fallen comrades are remembered.

Jeannie Gra, of Fruita, joined her family in Craig for the day of remembrance.

She sat by the white gravestones with her granddaughter, Alyssa Fears, 2, watching her play with a miniature American flag. She said she thinks it’s important for kids to gain admiration for the country’s flag and its symbolism.

“I want her to appreciate the flag,” she said.

Hundreds of small and large American flags were placed between the white gravestones at the cemetery. Colorful flowers were at all of the gravesites.

“I think it’s good for her to do the old tradition of honoring men who died,” Gra said. “It’s a way to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. I heard all the names called, and Craig should be so proud of all their men.”

Noelle Leavitt Riley can be reached at 970-875-1790, or by emailing

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