Ottumwa, Iowa – Nov. 5, 2014 – The recently installed Wapello County Freedom Rock will be formally dedicated during a ceremony at 5 p.m. on Veterans Day, Tuesday, Nov. 11 at Bridge View Center.
Mayor Tom Lazio will preside over the event featuring the Patriot Guard Riders, OHS JROTC, Boy Scout Troup 11, and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Lt. Colonel Dan Maeder of the Iowa National Guard will be the keynote speaker. Maeder has served in the military for more than 26 years. He is currently superintendent of the Davis County Community School District and was previously the principal of Evans Middle School.
The Ottumwa Area Arts Council coordinated the project and invites the public to attend the ceremony. Admission is free due to the generosity of an anonymous donor.
Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II painted the Wapello County Freedom Rock the week of Sept. 22. The rock weighs more than 11.5 tons and features military images pertinent to the area including the Naval Air Station Ottumwa, National Guard Unit 833rd, Tuskegee Airmen, along with a Gold Star Banner, bald eagle, and American flags.
Ottumwa’s Freedom Rock is part of “The Freedom Rock Tour” Sorensen launched to create a Freedom Rock in each of Iowa’s 99 counties to pay tribute to the sacrifice of veterans, military service members, and their families.
This effort began in 1999 with the original Freedom Rock when he painted a 60-ton boulder in rural Adair County after being inspired by the film, “Saving Private Ryan”. Sorensen creates a different patriotic mural on the original rock every year.
Following the dedication, Bridge View Center, Inc. will unveil some recently installed images in the Bridge View lobby. Ten photographs depict the Ottumwa riverfront over the past century and tell the story of how much it has changed. The images are courtesy of LeAnn and Michael Lemberger with the project funded by the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation’s Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund.