Honoring our veterans

This week, we received a very nice message from Ron and Debi Estabrook about the newly-dedicated Marshall County Freedom Rock:

“We would like to thank you so much for the wonderful coverage we have received over the last two years about the Freedom Rock project. It was a passion of my husband’s that was one of the most rewarding things we have done. We are so very grateful for Mike (Donahey)’s constant updates to keep the public informed. With the articles, bricks are being ordered on an average of 10-12 a week. To see so many people at the dedication made all the hours dedicated to the project very worthwhile. The fantastic article/pictures in (the July 5) paper was another example of the excellent coverage the T-R has given us.

“There is still one more monument to be set in late summer (it was dropped upon arrival in early June and had to be replaced) then we can officially complete the project.

“Thank all of you, again, for every article that was written and the dedication that was given to the project.”

But it really should be a matter of thanking the Estabrooks, the American Legion, the VFW, the countless volunteers, businesses and individual donors, families and military veterans who made the Freedom Rock a reality here in Marshall County.

Of course, the Freedom Rock is really about those brave heroes and their colleagues who gave the ultimate gift in defense of our personal freedoms we continue to enjoy today.

Only those Americans who have served in our nation’s military during wartime fully understand the sacrifices veterans have made to preserve our freedoms.

Some of those patriots never return to their families. Others come back with physical or emotional wounds that influence greatly their post-service lives. All have made an important contribution to keeping our way of life secure.

This nation has a proud history of honoring veterans. And a good example of that tradition was evident this past July 4 holiday with the Marshall County Freedom Rock, located on the grounds of the American Legion Post 46.

Ray “Bubba” Sorenson has spent several years developing a symbolic way to recognize veterans that he calls a Freedom Rock. He paints murals honoring military service on large rocks that as a result become important community monuments.

Iowa’s first Freedom Rock was created in 1999 when Sorensen painted the one near Menlo. It is repainted every year with new images. In 2013, he began a campaign to place a Freedom Rock in all 99 Iowa counties.

After several months of planning, the Marshall County Freedom Rock is now fully on display, dedicated to the sacrifices our local service members have made.

The Times-Republican and the entire community recognizes this incredible endeavor. The Marshall County Freedom Rock is a welcome addition to our community and it will always serve as a permanent reminder of what we owe to our veterans.