- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 5, 2017

OAKLAND, Iowa (AP) - Residents in a western Iowa city have gathered to dedicate a monument that honors fallen soldiers and veterans.

Artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen painted the Pottawattamie County Freedom Rock in Oakland’s Chautauqua Park in March, The Daily Nonpareil (https://bit.ly/2toYwDP ) reported.

“We’re grateful for all the hard work and dedication it took to get this done,” Oakland Mayor Michael O’Brien said during the dedication ceremony. “This is a great tribute that all of us can visit and enjoy.”

The 10-feet high, 13-feet long and 10-feet wide boulder features paintings of four Iowa veterans.

Sgt. Brent Maher of Honey Creek is featured on the rock. He was killed by an improvised explosive device in 2011 in eastern Afghanistan while serving with the Iowa Army National Guard.

“It’s pretty honorable to have his picture on this rock,” said his wife, Brenna, after the ceremony. “It’s important to us that his memory is continued and preserved. Things like this make that happen.”

The other veterans featured on the rock are Frank F. Everest of Council Bluffs, who served as commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and commander of the Tactical Air Command; Arnold W. Jacobsen of Walnut who served as commanding officer of the Marine Corps Supply Depots during World War II; and John S. McCain Jr. of Council Bluffs who served in conflicts from the 1940s through the 1970s.

The monument is one of a series the artist is working to complete in all 99 Iowa counties.

The Oakland Friday Coffee Ladies organized the project after viewing the original Freedom Rock in Greenfield. Grants from the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation, donations from OSI Industries of Oakland and individual donations helped pay for the project.

The project included sidewalk, crushed rock, lighting, signage and a bronze statue of a soldier saluting.

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Information from: The Daily Nonpareil, https://www.nonpareilonline.com

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