Freedom Rock dedication planned for October 19

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The Dallas County Freedom Rock will be dedicated Saturday, Oct. 19 at 10 a.m. in ceremonies in Minburn. Details of the program will be forthcoming. Photo courtesy Ray "Bubba" Sorensen II


The 25-ton, seven-foot-tall rock, donated by Dennis Allen of Herndon, was placed in April 2018 and painted by Iowa artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen in July 2019.

The Dallas County Freedom Rock will be dedicated Saturday, Oct. 19 at 10 a.m. in ceremonies in Minburn, according to a friend of the rock. Details of the program will be forthcoming.

The Minburn American Legion Post 99 contracted with Freedom Rock painter Ray “Bubba” Sorensen to paint the 18-ton boulder, which was donated by Dennis Allen of Herndon and placed in Minburn April 28, 2018. Sorensen began to execute his patriotic contract during the hottest days of mid-July and completed the work July 20.

Sorensen painted his first Freedom Rock in 1999, and some 82 Iowa counties now boast a Freedom Rock. The Dallas County Freedom Rock project cost an estimated $18,000, including Sorensen’s $5,000 fee plus the planned landscaping and beautifying of the grounds around the rock.

The Dallas County rock lies outside Iowa House District 20, which the Republican Sorenson represents in the Iowa House of Representatives, but Dawson, Linden and Perry lie within the district. The patriotic painter reflected Aug. 29 on his experience in painting the Dallas County Freedom Rock:

“It was a nice treat to be close to home painting the Dallas County Freedom Rock in Minburn, Iowa,” said Sorensen, a resident of Greenfield. “I for once didn’t need to pack and could drive back forth. I was also able to let both my kids help in creating this rock, so big thanks to Mikey for helping me prime it and to Indie for helping me fill in the big chunks of color. If you’re visiting this one and you’re from Dallas County and the surrounding area, you can take the Raccoon River Valley Trail to it.

“There were many great Veteran stories to choose from for this Freedom Rock as Dallas County is more populated that many of the counties across our great state. For the South side of the rock we chose the Wilson brothers from rural Dallas County near Minburn. Like the Sullivan Brothers, all five went to serve our country. Unlike the Sullivan’s, the two came back home, and they were the ones who joined the Navy. The three brothers in the army were all lost to plane crashes one in a P-38, one in a P-40 and one in a B-25. If you’re interested in digging deeper Joy Neal Kidney has a book about the history of the Wilson Brothers.

“Below the Wilsons I painted the symbol of our country the American eagle. In his beak is a ribbon that states its location, ‘Dallas County Iowa,’ but the ribbon wraps around to the skinny side of the rock to honor those suffering from PTSD. If you think you may be suffering from PTSD, please visit the Make the Connection website.

“On the back side are two legendary athletes from Dallas County who served their country with honor.

“Nile Kinnick Jr., born in Adel, was a student and a college football player at the University of Iowa. He won the 1939 Heisman Trophy and was a consensus All-American. Kinnick attended law school but left after one year and enlisted in the Naval Air Reserve. He wrote, ‘There is no reason in the world why we shouldn’t fight for the preservation of a chance to live freely, no reason why we shouldn’t suffer to uphold that which we want to endure. May God give me the courage to do my duty and not falter.’ On June 2, 1943, Ensign Kinnick was on a routine training flight from the aircraft carrier USS Lexington. Kinnick had been flying for over an hour when his Grumman F4F Wildcat developed an oil leak so serious that he could neither reach land nor the Lexington, whose flight deck was in any case crowded with planes preparing for launch. Kinnick followed standard military procedure and executed an emergency landing in the water but died in the process. Rescue boats arrived eight minutes later but found only an oil slick. His body was never recovered. Nile Kinnick was the first Heisman Trophy winner to die. He was a month and seven days away from his 25th birthday. Kinnick was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951, and the University of Iowa renamed its football stadium Kinnick Stadium in his honor in 1972.

“Robert William Andrew Feller, born in Van Meter, nicknamed ‘The Heater from Van Meter,’ ‘Bullet Bob’ and ‘Rapid Robert,’ was pitcher who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball for the Cleveland Indians. Feller first played for the Indians at the age of 17 and pitched from 1936 to 1941 and from 1945 to 1956, interrupted only by a four-year engagement in the Navy during World War II, where he served as Chief Petty Officer aboard the USS Alabama. He became the first professional athlete to enlist after hearing about the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Feller and the Alabama crew spent most of 1943 in the British Isles along with USS South Dakota but in August were reassigned to the Pacific Theater of Operations. Feller first saw combat at Operation Galvanic in November 1943. The Alabama also served during Operation Flintlock while primarily being used as an escort battleship in 1944. Feller participated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea before his combat duty ended in January 1945. He spent the rest of the war at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station as an instructor. Feller became the first pitcher to win 24 games in a season before the age of 21. During his career, he threw no-hitters in 1940, 1946 and 1951. Feller also recorded 12 one-hitters. He helped the Indians win a World Series title in 1948 and an American League-record 111 wins and the pennant in 1954. He was a first-ballot Hall of Famer whom Ted Williams said was ‘the fastest and best pitcher I ever saw during my career.’

“Like always, Old Glory rolls over the top to represent not only all Veterans but all of us Americans. Thank you, Veterans, for serving our country.”

Admiring the Dallas County Freedom Rock July 20 was Emma Kinkennon-Bettis, 9, of Van Meter, daughter of Nicole Kinkennon-Bettis. “She asked me why there are no women o the Freedom Rock,” said Emma’s great-grandmother, Linda Rote Grabill of Minburn.

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