Lowering gray clouds made a fitting scene Saturday for the solemn dedication of the Dallas County Freedom Rock in Minburn.
About 175 people attended the ceremonial dedication of the rock, which was sponsored by the American Legion Osborne Post 99 in Minburn. The Minburn post, founded in 1919, is one of the oldest American Legion Posts in Iowa. It is dedicated to Pfc. Lester Osborne, the first Dallas County lad killed in World War I.
Osborne Post 99 Commander Mark Golightly of Perry was the mater of ceremonies, which opened with the singing of the national anthem, led by Julie Dueker and the Young Patriots Club of Des Moines.
As light rain fell, an invocation was offered by Waukee American Legion Post Chaplain Bob Aplin, followed by remarks from Puppy Jake Foundation supporter and talk radio personage Simon Conway, Dallas County Veterans Affairs Director Nick Praska and local historian Joy Neal Kidney, niece of the five Wilson brothers depicted on the memorial rock.
Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II of Greenfield, painter of the state’s Freedom Rocks, was unable to attend the event due to a death in the family.
Many veterans of the U.S. military service were in attendance, and all were honored for their selfless service. Conway drew special attention to U.S. Army veteran Dennis E. Dorman of Adel and Simon, Dorman’s Puppy Jake Foundation service dog.
Dorman, a native of Fonda, Iowa, served in the Korean War and survived the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in 1950, which saw a 90 percent casualty rate. He was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Purple Heart, the U.S. and Korean Presidential Unit Citations, the Korean Service Ribbon with six Bronze Stars and other medals and awards.
In brief remarks, Praska said more than 4,000 veterans live today in Dallas County. Praska said the solid rock beneath the painted surface symbolizes the support from the community that veterans deserve and the respect they have earned.
Kidney spoke about the emotional toll her family paid with the loss of four of her five uncles in World War II. She said she treasures the cache of letters written by her uncles to family members on the home front during America’s war against fascism in Europe and the Far East.
Golightly then read out the dedicatory proclamation. He closed by giving thanks to a long list of the Dallas County Freedom Rock’s donors, sponsors and volunteers. The ceremony ended with a final prayer from Chaplain Aplin and a stirring rendition of “God Bless America” by the Young Patriots Club.
Following the dedication, the Minburn American Legion Ladies Auxiliary presented a donation of $1,500 to the Puppy Jake Foundation of Urbandale. The foundation’s training academy in Clive has now trained 30 companion dogs for military veterans, according to Puppy Jake spokesperson April Dykes Linder of West Des Moines, who accepted the donation. The two-year training regime starts when the puppies are 8 weeks old, Dykes Linder said.
The Minburn American Legion Post 99 contracted with Sorensen in 2017 to paint the 18-ton boulder, which was donated by Dennis Allen of Herndon and placed in Minburn April 28, 2018. Sorensen began painting during the hottest days of mid-July and completed the work July 20, 2019.
The Dallas County Freedom Rock project cost an estimated $20,000, including Sorensen’s $5,000 fee and the additional landscaping and beautifying of the grounds around the rock. Future additions to the memorial park include five granite stellae or columns, each commemorating a branch of the U.S. armed forces.
Donations to the Dallas County Freedom Rock project may be directed to Minburn Legion Post 99, P.O. Box 173, Minburn, IA 50167.