Article by: Spiff Slifka
Howard County Business & Tourism (HCBT), which is served by CEDA, partnered with county veterans to bring the Freedom Rock and Memorial Park to Howard County, IA. HCBT took the lead with the Freedom Rock committee and held over 50 meetings to organize and administer this $150,000 endeavor. Four grants totaling $6,250 were written by CEDA team member Spiff Slifka, who serves the HCBT, to kick-start this project.
Little did Howard County Veterans know that just over three years ago and 600 volunteer hours later, they would be dedicating the 68th Freedom Rock and the Howard County Memorial Park. Over 500 people gathered June 23, 2018 to witness a spectacular program organized by veterans from around the county with special guests, the Oak Ridge Boys singing the National Anthem.
Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II, Freedom Rock Tour artist, told the crowd he was inspired after watching the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” in 1999. He painted his first rock the next Memorial Day near his hometown of Fontanelle, Iowa. From there, he has painted over 70 rocks drawing on each county’s history and we are just one of his 99-piece Freedom Rock puzzle.
During the dedication, Jim Perry, Commander of the American Legion Post 135 and Freedom Rock Chair reminisced about the history of the park. “For over a year, veterans searched for the perfect rock and the perfect site. Every town was considered and after drawing on DOT traffic data, the Freedom Rock committee approached the Cresco City Council for a site along Highway 9. From there a great partnership was formed and it wasn’t long after that the perfect rock was found.”
“Visiting the Memorial Park is a visual treat for everyone and offers a bit of education”, offers Rick Slifka, Commander of VFW Post 4561. “We have nine granite tablets telling the story of every war and conflict starting with the War of 1812. Included in these stories are inventions that took place during the war and on the home front.”
What more could the veterans bring to this dedication? Why not ask the Oak Ridge Boys, long time American Legion spokesmen, to sing at this prominent event? The Country Music Hall of Fame group didn’t hesitate to accept and the crowd was ‘wowed’ by their personal touch to an already impressive day.
Howard County veterans invite you to the Freedom Rock Memorial Park in Cresco, Iowa and be prepared to be ‘wowed’ as you cross this off your bucket list.