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The Creston World War II Memorial was proposed by the Greater Creston Boosters Association in 1943. It was then financed by the people of the Creston neighborhood in Grand Rapids, Michigan, through donations by individual citizens, business leaders, and local community organizations. After much effort, the monument was erected in 1944. The hope was that the monument, once placed in Creston Square, would serve “to honor all men and women of Greater Creston who are serving in the armed forces of our country.”[1] The monument contains more than one hundred names of Cresten citizens who died in WWII.


  • Creston World War II Memorial Marker
  • Creston World War II Memorial Marker Text
  • Creston World War II Memorial Marker
  • Full Page Ad in The Creston News, July 2, 1943.

The idea for placing a memorial in Creston Square was first proposed in June of 1943 by resident Roalf Stuits and quickly adopted by the community of Creston. Beginning in July of that year, the local newspaper, The Creston News, devoted several full page notices [2] to calling the community to action on the project. These notices featured renderings of the proposed monument with designs by local artist Henry Datema of the VanHouten Sign Company. Donations for the monument came from the community itself. Individuals or businesses who donated had their names published in The Creston News. In addition, sixty-five businesses within the community placed boxes or milk bottles in their stores where citizens were encouraged to donate to the memorial fund. The project leaders were also local business leaders from the Greater Creston Boosters. This included men such as John Jurries of the Jurries Furniture Company, John Heyns of the local grocery store, Arthur Petersen of Petersen Plumbing & Heating Company, George Palmer of Apex Appliance Company, Hyman Berkowitz of Plainfield Department store, and Harry Himmelstein of the Creston Theatre.[3] 

Henry Datema’s original depiction called for a bronze monument about twelve feet tall and the estimated cost was around one thousand dollars. This turned out not to be practical due to the wartime shortage of bronze. The design was soon changed to marble, which increased the price to about four thousand dollars. This, too, proved unfeasible and the final decision was made to use granite, increasing the price to around seven thousand dollars.[4] The rise in cost was partially due to the increased size of the foundation needed to hold the new granite monument.

The changes in Henry Datema’s original design pushed back the proposed 1943 dedication date from Labor Day to November 11, Armistice Day. Unfortunately for the people of Creston, the monument was lost as it was being shipped by rail from Vermont. The railroad car carrying the stonework was misrouted and could not initially be found.[5] In January 1944, the railroad company finally located the monument and delivered it to one of Creston’s construction companies, George Datema & Sons, who were contracted to erect the monument. The dedication of the Creston World War II Memorial was finally held on Friday April 14, 1944, at 3:30 pm.[6] This is why there is a discrepancy on the monument stating that it was erected the prior year. Businesses throughout Creston closed for the ceremony and the community came together to honor the more than thirty-six hundred citizens of Creston who served their nation during World War II.[7] 

Despite the many changes to the community of Creston, the memorial still stands in honor of the men and women who served in World War II. The monument’s importance to the community shines through in the fact that fifty years later, in 1994, Creston veterans, community members, and leaders came together to rededicate the Creston World War II Memorial.[8]

Footnotes

[1] “Creston’s Own Memorial,” The Creston News, July 16, 1943, Periodicals, Grand Rapids Public Library Archives, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

[2] “Proposed Memorial,” The Creston News, July 2, 1943, Periodicals, Grand Rapids Public Library Archives, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

[3] “Creston’s Own Memorial,” The Creston News, July 23, 1943, Periodicals, Grand Rapids Public Library Archives, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

[4] “Creston Boosters to Meet,” The Creston News, September 17, 1943, Periodicals, Grand Rapids Public Library Archives, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

[5] “Lost, Strayed, or - - -,” The Creston News, November 19, 1943, Periodicals, Grand Rapids Public Library Archives, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

[6] “Memorial Shaft Dedication Set,” The Grand Rapids Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, April 8, 1944.

[7] “Stores to Close for Dedication of Memorial,” The Creston News, April 14, 1944, Periodicals, Grand Rapids Public Library Archives, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

[8] Robert Trost, “Creston War Memorial is rededicated 50 years after the original event,” The Grand Rapids Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, April 15, 1994.

Sources

“Creston WWII Memorial.” The Grand Rapids Herald, September 19, 1943. HSCC Vertical Files. “Monuments 

& Memorials—GR & Kent” Grand Rapids Public Library Archives, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“Memorial Shaft Dedication Set.” The Grand Rapids Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, April 8, 1944.

The Creston News, July 2, 1943 thru April 14, 1944. Periodicals, Grand Rapids Public Library Archives, Grand     

Rapids, Michigan.

Trost, Robert. “Creston War Memorial is rededicated 50 years after the original event.” The Grand Rapids Press, 

Grand Rapids, Michigan, April 15, 1994.

“Veterans Monuments Around Town.” Grand River Times: The Newsletter of the Grand Rapids Historical   

Society 28, no. 2 (November 2006): 4-5. HSCC Vertical Files, “Monuments & Memorials—GR & Kent,” Grand Rapids Public Library Archives, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=115972

https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=115972

https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=115972

“Proposed Memorial,” The Creston News, July 2, 1943, Periodicals, Grand Rapids Public Library Archives, Grand Rapids, Michigan.