Friday, July 4, 2014

Johnny Tremain and the Reason We Celebrate July 4th

Whether I was born with a love of history or it developed as I did, a book from the same year had much to do with it.

In 1943 Esther Forbes' book about the American Revolution was published. The following year this Young Adult book, Johnny Tremain, won the Newbery Medal. The story is about 14-year-old Johnny's life in pre-revolutionary Boston. I was probably close to that age when I read the book. I know it left a lasting impression on me. I always found reading historical novels much more palpable than learning history by rote.

So, on this 238th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, I think about all the boys and young men like Johnny who have fought and died for our country's freedoms. Perhaps it was our visit to this year's Freedom Rock yesterday that made me think of Johnny Tremain... see this year's depiction has a Minuteman on the front along with an injured returning vet and a current soldier. Bubba Sorensen repaints this giant boulder each year to honor our Vets for Memorial Day. You can learn more about Sorensen at as well as on his Facebook page 'The Freedom Rock'.

I find myself as intrigued by this pole and the mementos left by other visitors as I am by the rock. I wish I knew the stories behind some of them.

Sorensen has created "The Freedom Rock Tour" of Iowa in which he plans to paint a smaller version of The Freedom Rock in all 99 counties.  My home county, Adams, got their's last year. He was working on it during 'Retire the Red Raider' weekend which I wrote about here. My brother, Ron, took part in the dedication ceremonies for the Adams County Freedom Rock this past Memorial Day.

The county I now live in, Union, has their rock in place near the old Phillips 66 station which serves as our information center. I believe it will be painted next year.

It will be interesting to see how Sorensen transforms this rock into one unique to Union County as he continues his dedication to honor and remember Iowa's Veterans not only on the 4th of July, but every day.

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