For several years, Iowa artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II has worked his way across the state painting Freedom Rocks honoring veterans in each of Iowa’s ninety-nine counties. Now, Wilton has plans in the works to create a beautiful space to display this tribute to area veterans.
According to Ted Marolf, a member of the Wilton City Council, “We saw that [Sorensen was] looking for a place to put [a Freedom Rock], so the American Legion Auxiliary applied, and Wilton was awarded the site for the Muscatine County Freedom Rock.” Once the city knew they would host the Muscatine County Freedom Rock, they looked into how to display it. Marolf and others visited Freedom Rocks in neighboring counties and got ideas for how to best present theirs.
In the end, those working on the Muscatine County Freedom Rock project decided that creating a plaza near the Wilton Depot would best show off this creative tribute. As a part of the plaza, county residents and businesses may contribute a paver honoring a specific loved one who served in any branch of the armed forces or offering a general statement of thanks to those who served.
As the group begins planning out the plaza and taking orders for inscribed pavers, they look forward to working with people from around the county to make it a truly inclusive effort. “We’re hopeful that we’’ be able to team up with Muscatine organizations [and] governments,” said Marolf. “We [want] to make it not just a Wilton thing but a Muscatine County thing.”
Along with getting the county behind their project, Wilton also hopes to use the Freedom Rock as a way to promote tourism in the county. Through his research, Marolf discovered that many individuals and groups take tours of the various Freedom Rocks across the state. By creating a welcoming plaza close to the Wilton Depot (a spot that already attracts local history enthusiasts), Marolf thinks many people will want to come check out this new memorial. “We’re going to make it somewhere to come, to visit the rock, enjoy time outside, and be on your way or visit the Depot,” he elaborated.
Marolf and his colleagues hope to have the plaza around the Freedom Rock ready for its unveiling in 2020. If you would like to donate a paver to this project, you may learn more by visiting the Muscatine County Freedom Rock Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/wiltondepotrock/).