Lee County’s Freedom Rock dedicated
WEST POINT – The Lee County Freedom Rock was formally dedicated at a ceremony in West Point city square Sunday afternoon.
The Lee County Freedom Rock was painted by artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II and made possible by the Lee County Freedom Rock Committee. The rock is a symbolic “Thank You” to the nation’s veterans for their service to the country.
The ceremony began with a blessing from veteran Father Mark Spring of Holy Family Parish and a welcoming speech from West Point Mayor Paul Walker, followed by Stewart Beyer, director of choral activities at Holy Trinity Jr./Sr. High School directing the HTC All-State Singers and Men’s Doo Wop Group. Afterwards, a speech was given by first district commander Alvin Miller and Freedom Rock Committee chairman Darius Janssen.
“Looking out across at a one people, and when I say one people who are we? We are Americans. We are a diverse people, we are multicultural people. We come from all backgrounds and what we are here for today is why we are here the significance of our freedom. Freedom is not free,” Janssen said. “All of us here know that, and it’s been paid for at a very high price. We need to continue to protect it and observe our freedom. That is what the stars and stripes stand for all of us together we are Americans. From one American to every American here: welcome, we stand together.”
Father Dennis Hoffman closed the ceremony with a prayer and American Legion Honor Guards of Lee County did a 21-gun salute and played taps.
Only 99 rocks are placed throughout the state of Iowa – one per county, with cities in the counties being chosen on a first come-first served basis. Each year the rock is to be repainted with a different Thank You message to honor veterans. Sorensen said he was inspired by the movie “Saving Private Ryan” for the paintings and he also wanted to give a unique touch in recognizing Memorial Day.
The West Point City Council approved placement of the rock in the city in November 2015. The rock was selected earlier in the year from a site in Missouri and in July the rock was loaded and moved by McDowell Crane & Rigging Services. It was placed in the park just prior to the Sweet Corn Festival.
After months of planning, artist Sorensen started painting the Freedom Rock on Oct. 3 and it was complete on Nov. 7.
Each rock across the state was painted in patriotic themes pertaining to the county it sits in. Rocks vary widely in size and dimension, the tallest described to the council as being 10 feet tall. The Lee County boulder rock weighs approximately 60 plus tons.
The rock was provided by the Lee County Board of Supervisors. Funds for moving the rock, landscaping the area, and painting the rock were raised by the veterans’ group in West Point.