Heroes of the highest kind: Moffat County remembers WWII soldiers | CraigDailyPress.com

Heroes of the highest kind: Moffat County remembers WWII soldiers

Lauren Blair
A memorial sculpture outside the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 was first placed last fall to commemorate the service of Moffat County soldiers in World War II. As part of Fourth of July festivities, local veterans will officially dedicate the memorial Tuesday following a holiday parade.
File Photo

This Independence Day, in between the parade and the picnic and all the celebration, members of Craig’s Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts are hoping that people will join them for a moment of remembrance.

A new memorial statue and base, erected in September in Craig City Park, now also known as Veterans Memorial Park, will be formally dedicated in honor of Craig’s own fallen soldiers from World War II.

“The greatest casualty is being forgotten,” said Craig VFW Quartermaster Mark Wick. “These World War II guys… they were the greatest, the best generation. Don’t forget the best. If (you do), you’ll never do right by your future.”

The dedication will take place at approximately noon Tuesday, immediately following the parade. The parade starts at 11 a.m. and a picnic will follow the dedication, courtesy of the VFW.

The memorial, which consists of an engraved granite base and a bronze statue of a World War II soldier, was a joint effort between the Museum of Northwest Colorado, city and county governments, local donors and members of the VFW and American Legion.

“For a community of 5,000 people, (Craig) had hundreds and hundreds that served in the war, and 30 of them made the ultimate sacrifice,” said museum Director Dan Davidson. “I wanted the guys that were still here to be acknowledged for what they and their generation did.”

Davidson hopes any living World War II veterans and families of World War II veterans will attend to be honored during the dedication.

For Davidson, the cause was a personal one. Growing up, almost everyone he knew in Craig, the businessmen and community members of his parents’ generation, had served in the war or been impacted significantly by it, he said.

He recounted his friendship with his mailman as a kid, Vern Inman, who almost starved to death as a prisoner of war but was lucky enough to return home.

“And in most cases, almost none of them talked about, it was just the norm,” Davidson said. Now, “there’s very few of these guys left, and since this project started three years ago, we’ve probably lost half of them.”

The dedication will be further honored with the attendance of state dignitaries, including the VFW Department of Colorado Commander Ed Aiken and Senior Vice Commander Steve Kjonaas, and the American Legion senior vice commander.

For Davidson, it’s the sacrifices made by both the soldiers and by their wives, children, parents and families back home that needs and deserves to be remembered.

“There was no other time in American history (like it), and in fact it changed the fabric of America,” Davidson said. “We owe the ultimate freedom we have — and sometimes abuse — today to the sacrifices that generation made.”

The sculpture, created by Scott Streadbeck of Alpine, Utah, and the granite base were funded by the Museum of Northwest Colorado Mineral Fund, an Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado grant obtained in partnership with Moffat County and the City of Craig, Les and Bonnie Hampton in memory of Sgt. Lawrence W. Fritz, and the employees of TIC.

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1795 and follow her on Twitter @LaurenBNews.