Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Iowa V

I almost missed the exit for Freedom Rock. I stopped at a visitors center that was unmanned, so I asked a trucker and he told me the exit was about 20 miles further on. I headed out and from the left lane saw the sign for the exit coming up fast! It was the next exit (after the visitor center) and I had a little trouble getting over but it was well worth it!

It seems that in 1999, a 19 year old student wanted to do something patriotic. So, he began painting patriotic scenes on a large rock in the area. The rock had been sitting for years after failed attempts to move it. It had become known as the "graffiti rock" because so many people had been leaving messages of one kind or another on it for so long. His first mural was a rendition of the Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima. Interestingly, no one painted over it or marked it up in any way. It was immensely popular and he was asked to do more murals by local citizens and vets. As time went on, he painted more and more scenes often covering over previous ones. In 2006, he was working on a Vietnam themed scene when some vet bikers, on their way to The Wall in D.C. arrived and wanted to spread the ashes of their 'Nam vet buddies at the site. The artist suggested that they would just blow away and told the vets to pour the ashes into his paint and they would become part of the scene. He also committed to never paint over this particular part of the rock. So, it remains a tribute, a true memorial, forever. The story goes that many others have added ashes to his paint so that when he touches up the Vietnam scene, more and more vets are included for all eternity.

As some of you know, I have been to many, many sites now. I guess about 150. This one, completely unknown to me a few hours before I visited, is one of very few that has completely overwhelmed me. You might notice that the last picture of the small stones is blurred. I did not see that until I got home. The only explanation I can think of is that my hands were shaking as I snapped the pic. This would not surprise me as I had to sit on a nearby bench for a while to compose myself before I could go on. Note, also, the date on the one stone in the center. Someone had left that on the very day that I visited the site, 9/8/10.

You can read more about the artist and his work, here;

He offers a number of The Freedom Rock items for sale to help defray the cost of this ongoing project. So, if you see something you like, help him out.

The Freedom Rock is located approx. 1 mile south of I-80 on Highway 25, approx. 37 miles (59 km) west of Des Moines, Iowa in Adair County.

My next stop was an unscheduled find at the Iowa Veteran's Cemetery.

No comments:

Post a Comment