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Explanation of Local Heroes/Scenes on
the Cedar County Freedom Rock painted by Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II
Explanation of Local Heroes/Scenes on the Cedar County Freedom Rock painted by Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II
The overall theme for this Freedom Rock is to pay tribute to freedom and sacrifices by remembering the past, honoring the present, and embracing the future.
West (front) side of rock- left to right:
The front depicts a historical “honor guard” of county residents who served our country. The two children represent the future as they wave the American flags. Bubba painted their images in great likeness to his own son and daughter (Mikey and Independence “Indie”).
Saluting, WWII Marine Pvt. Arthur Thomsen was from rural Cedar County near Atalissa. He served on a security detail on the USS Indianapolis naval ship. He was on board in 1945 and was involved in combat operations during Iwo Jima and Okinawa battles. The USS Indianapolis then carried Uranium to make the atomic bomb in the “Little Boy” mission used to bomb Hiroshima and then was in route to the Philippines to assist in the invasion of Japan. Out at sea, the ship was hit by two torpedoes launched from a Japanese submarine and 900 of the 1200 perished at sea, including Arthur.
The Civil War soldier towards the center of this scene is Pitt Herington. Before the Civil War he was a student at the Tipton Union School and then joined the Company E 11th Iowa Infantry. He heroically fought in numerous battles with the veteran 11th Iowa Regiment. In 1864 he was fighting for General Sherman near Ackworth, GA when a soldier near him was wounded. Pitt and another soldier rushed to pull his body to safety while still under fire. Pitt to this date, is the only Cedar County Civil War soldier to receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery.
To the right of Pitt are three current generation soldiers who, ‘gave all’ for their country as they served in “Operation Iraq” in the early to mid-2000’s. These brave soldiers represent the men and women who have already, or are currently fighting in war zones and serving to keep our country safe. The first young man Donald Griffith, Jr. grew up in Mechanicsville and served in the Army National Guard. Next is David Behrle who joined the Army and he and Aaron Sissel, the third man, were from Tipton. Aaron also served in the Army National Guard.
Ella M. Noring is to the right of these young men and she herself was very young when becoming a military nurse during WWI. She was from West Liberty and worked in a hospital in New Jersey while waiting to be sent to the European war theatre. Ella knew that caring for soldiers who had severe injuries and diseases would be very dangerous. She provided physical and emotional care, giving hope to many young men. Ella developed influenza which turned into pneumonia and passed away while still in New Jersey. Her cold November funeral was held outside, as mourners feared they too may become infected with the influenza virus.
South side of the rock:
Cedar County was involved in the Abolitionist movement and was part of the underground railroad that helped slaves escape to freedom. The artist painted a very black background to represent this dark time in our nation’s history. The barn barely visible, depicts the Samuel Yule Barn, and it remains standing today near Red Oak Grove Church and Cemetery. Slaves often times came out of hiding and had to travel at night with lanterns to get to safety. Bubba humbly portrayed these tense moments in this scene and included the outline of the state of Iowa and the John Brown Freedom Trail 1859 which ran through Cedar County, Iowa.
East (back) side of the rock:
Not many counties in the nation have had a Commander in Chief born and raised there. Thus, the artist decided to include the well-known humanitarian and U.S. President, Herbert Hoover on the Cedar County Freedom Rock. He was President from 1929 to 1933 and was key in managing the farm crisis at that time and tried to stabilize our country during and after the Great Depression. Prior to his Presidency, he was head of the Food Administration and then of the American Relief Administration after WWI. He also served as Secretary of Commerce under Presidents Harding and Coolidge. His humanitarian efforts and labors to feed war torn, international, countries may have arisen from his agricultural roots in Iowa. The quote on the rock is part of a speech that President Hoover gave stressing the importance of freedom and patriotism.