Dedication ceremony held for Keokuk County Freedom Rock

All area veterans present after the ceremony took a moment to gather for a group photo.

           Respect and admiration. Those were just two of the feelings of the over three hundred people that filled the chairs of the historic Opera House for the Freedom Rock dedication ceremony on Sunday, September 17. A ceremony that reflects the lives of those who have served to ensure our freedom.

            Many that attended have personally been touched by those who have served, whether it is a family member or friend. Others came to support those whom they have never met, but know have paid the ultimate sacrifice to the United States of America.

            The Freedom Rock began when Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II first viewed the movie Saving Private Ryan and wanted to do what he could to show respect to all veterans.  With the original rock seated in Adair county, Sorensen repaints this rock yearly before Memorial Day.  He never dreamt that years later he would use his artistic skills to honor those who have served throughout the state of Iowa, with 98 of 99 counties either already having a rock or waiting for completion of their rock.

            When city clerk Melanie Vermillion convinced Mayor Mike Danner and council to let her apply for What Cheer to be the location of the Keokuk County Freedom Rock in April of 2014, she didn’t imagine all of the community outpouring support she would receive. Just a month later, Vermillion was informed that her application had been accepted and the forming of a committee took place shortly after.

            When you look at the Freedom Rock, you will notice all of the time and details put into the project, from the setting of the rock to the bricks that set to the east of the rock displaying the names of many area military personnel that live in the county. To the west, support bricks line the walk to show that community members who have helped support the project along the way.

            Vermillion has taken the time to paint the concrete pillars as well as maintain the flowers that line the rock and make sure that the rock remains a token of appreciation in the community.  

            "The community support for this project was unbelievable. Many projects like this that are put on in bigger cities have an easier time with funding because of the number of businesses, organizations, etc. The thing about this is that so many people have helped in small ways, such as volunteering their work, materials, their knowledge and so many more people contributed in smaller ways. Things as simple as T-shirt purchases, brick purchases and many, many small donations that we were able to make a beautiful memorial for our veterans that many have said looks like it belongs in a larger city. That in itself, that kind of community support for something so meaningful is something that this whole community should be proud of,” Vermillion said.

Please view the September 20 edition of The News-Review for the full story.