Spreading patriotism around Kasson has come in many forms over the years, but perhaps not in as unusual of a way as what the Kasson Legion is currently embarking on.
The Freedom Rock—a 9-foot boulder—has been placed outside the Legion clubroom on Main Street awaiting an artist from Iowa to paint a mural on it. Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II began working on the project Tuesday. It is expected to take him two weeks to complete the mural.
On the Fourth of July, Tom Paulson of Mantorville hauled the boulder from Dave Brooks’ sand pit outside of Byron into Kasson with a front-end loader and placed it outside the Legion.
“It’s big, and it’s heavy,” said Dave Wilcox of Mantorville, who spearheaded the project. Despite the size, the move went off without a hitch. He said the Kasson’s rock is in the top 15 percent of the rocks Sorensen has painted over the years. “They don’t get much bigger,” he added.
The move, Wilcox said, went much easier than expected. He said moving on the Fourth provided to be a perfect time because there was little traffic in town to contend with.
Wilcox got the idea when he saw a painted patriotic rock in Britt, Iowa. Sorensen is hoping to have rocks in all 99 counties in Iowa. He currently has completed 73 of them around the state.
This will be the first Freedom Rock in Minnesota.
“I thought it was such a really cool thing,” Wilcox said. “You’ll be amazed at what he can do with the rock.”
Wilcox did not serve in the military nor did any of his family members. “I didn’t serve, but I’m smart enough to respect those who did,” he said.
Legion commander Bob Melin said local legion members will give Sorensen some suggestions on what they would like to see on the rock. Some ideas being kicked around are Iwo Jima from World War II, the Minnesota connection to the Civil War and a scene from Vietnam. No matter which scene he ends up painting, Melin said the American flag will be incorporated into the mural.
“We give him ideas, and he comes up with the final painting,” Melin said. “We want to give it a local flair,” he added.
While Sorensen is painting the mural, a tent will be set up over the rock. He is planning to bring his family, including two young children, to town during the painting. Melin said he will be working on the mural at all different hours.
The project is expected to run about $13,000, according to Melin. The Legion plans to do some fundraisers in the near future to help pay for the project. Donations are also being accepted by the Legion.
“When it’s all done, it’s going to be unique,” Melin said. “We’re all about veterans who serve,” he added.
Melin said it’s important for everyone to remember those who served in the military. “Our biggest fear is that our younger generation will forget the sacrifices made by men and women of this country,” he said. “They take it for granted that freedom is free. It’s not.”
Christy Eischens, a member of the Kasson Legion, is excited about what the rock will mean to the Legion as well as the community. “It’s awesome to see the respect for our military. It chokes me up,” she said.
Added Melin, “We’re hoping it will draw people into our quaint community.”
Once the entire project is completed with possibly more flags and lighting around it, the Legion plans to have a dedication ceremony.