The only gazebo covered Freedom Rock (#68) in Iowa is located along Highway 9 in Cresco.
The original Freedom Rock, established in 1999, is a large, 60+ ton boulder located in rural Iowa that is repainted every year with a different Thank You for our nations Veterans to honor their service to our country. The artist, Ray "Bubba" Sorensen II, was inspired by the movie Saving Private Ryan, as well as wanting to give Veterans a unique recognition on Memorial Day.
Area veterans were enthusiastic about bringing a Freedom Rock to Howard County. Once they made their application, Bubba put Howard County on the Freedom Rock Tour, slated for October 2017, and the real work began.
Led by American Legion Post 135 Commander, Jim Perry, veterans from around the county joined the Freedom Rock committee and the strategizing began. First on the list was to find a site. They looked at every town, the corner of Hwy 9 and 63, and scrutinized the DOT traffic numbers to find the best spot. After careful review, the veterans reached out to the Cresco City Council about the current site and a partnership began. Next on the agenda, veterans kept their eyes open for the perfect rock. Ray Bina came forward and said he had a rock and with the help of Mehmert Tiling, the Howard County Freedom Rock was found!
As expected of good military personnel, structured meetings commenced. Working with general contractor, Chris Reicks of Reicks Landscapes, the Park was designed and the campaign began. CUSB Bank and Cresco Bank & Trust were the first to donate and the veterans were thrilled. With county-wide, community support the Howard County Freedom Rock Park became a reality.
October approached and the veterans were busy getting the site ready for Bubba to paint the rock. Working with Howard County Business & Tourism, Bubba came to Cresco with his design in place. On November 11, 2017 the completed Freedom Rock was unveiled in a misty rain with hundreds of attendees.
The remaining details of the Freedom Rock Memorial Park kept the attention of the veterans for the first half of 2018. Stories about the wars and conflicts starting with the War of 1812 were written (because we have three residents buried in Howard County who fought in the War of 1812), the ceremony planned and invitations sent. The dedication of the Howard County Freedom Rock Memorial Park was June 23, 2018 at 4:00pm. Special guests, the Oak Ridge Boys, surprised attendees by singing the National Anthem.
The Howard County Freedom Rock project is being led by the American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, American Legion Riders, Veterans of Foreign War (VFW), and VFW Auxiliary of Howard County.