The journey of Clayton County's Freedom Rock

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A Freedom Rock arrived in Guttenberg on Nov. 21 and was placed at Limbeck (Horseshoe) Pond. It will be painted with a patriotic scene in July 2019. Freedom Rock committee members are, from left, Stan Blair, Jim Eglseder, Bob Moser, Dick Eilers, and Carson Palmer; not pictured are Nancy McClellan and Wendy Kuhse. See story below. (Photo courtesy of Nancy McClellan)

This six-ton boulder was carefully lifted off C.J. Moyna's flatbed truck using a crane operated by employees of Winegar Works Marina. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

An area veteran and a patriotic artist first came in contact with one another two years ago.  

In the fall of 2015, area veteran Stan Blair of Guttenberg approached artist Ray "Bubba" Sorensen inquiring about the placement of a Freedom Rock® in Clayton County. 

An online application process was the first step in bringing this symbol of patriotism to our community.  

Artist Sorensen, from Western Iowa, with a love for art, carried his passion into a career as a graphic designer and a mural artist. 

In 1999, after seeing the movie "Saving Private Ryan," Sorenson was inspired to paint a thank you to all veterans on a large 12-foot tall boulder dubbed the "Freedom Rock" which is located at 1199 IA-25, Menlo, IA 50164. 

Each year in May, Sorenson repaints the rock with a different patriotic scene to honor our veterans.  

In 2013, Bubba and his wife, Maria, started the Freedom Rock Tour with the goal of putting one in all 99 counties in Iowa. 

Then Blair received word from Sorenson that Guttenberg had been selected for a Freedom Rock project, he formed a committee that included area veterans Dick Eilers, Jim Eglseder, Carson Palmer, Bob Moser, Nancy McClellan, and Wendy Kuhse as treasurer. 

Blair was shown a number of large rock options by a representative from C. J. Moyna and Sons  of Elkader, before choosing the boulder to represent the canvas for the patriotic remembrance. 

Fast forward to Nov. 21 in a two-week flurry of activity that preceded the placing of the rock at Limbeck Pond (commonly known as Horseshoe Pond), along highway 52 north in Guttenberg.  

Freedom Rock organizer Blair contacted a number of local businesses and asked for their assistance, time and equipment.  Each immediately and generously offering  to do what was needed to assist in the project.

C. J. Moyna and Sons of Elkader donated the boulder measuring nine-feet long, five-feet eight-inches high, 44 inches thick, with an estimated weight of six tons. They provided the necessary transportation and assisted in setting it in. 

Larry Borcherding donated his time and equipment to excavate the 15x1-foot, 12-inch deep support hole to place the crushed rock base. 

Friedlein Excavating donated and delivered the crushed rock, and Stan Blair and Dick Eilers leveled the crushed rock. 

Short Concrete donated time and  equipment to pack down the gravel to create a stable base for the gigantic rock to rest on.  

Enter in Winegar Works Marina staff, Eric Stirn and Richie Preston, with a sturdy crane, a large canvas strap and a couple of hooks and couplings, some nerves of steel and a lot of hands-on ingenuity from everyone involved. The rock was lifted off the trailer, stood up and then rotated into place parallel to Highway 52. 

Artist Sorenson is expected to be in Guttenberg for seven to ten days in July 2019 to paint  the rock with a patriotic mural to complete the project. 

The committee is inviting all veteran groups to submit ideas for the images to be painted on the rock to represent specific events, people or images of Clayton County veterans. 

Fundraisers are in the planning stages to raise monies to complete a shelter over the completed rock, a handicap accessible sidewalk and landscaping. The coordinating committee will also be taking orders for memorial/honorarium pavers to honor your veteran, 

This patriotic piece will represent all of Clayton County and the pride and appreciation residents have for all our veterans and their years of service to our country.

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