About the Washington County Freedom Rock
On June 16, 2018, the community of Brighton unveiled the Washington County Freedom Rock during the 108th annual Whoopee Days celebration. The rock is located at the corner of Hwy. 1 & 78 in Brighton (former location of BJ's Stop Off).
The rock, painted by Freedom Rock artist Ray "Bubba" Sorensen II, features a variety of scenes and symbols that honor and remember Washington County's proud military background. During the dedication ceremony, Sorensen shared some of his inspiration and meaning behind scenes on the rock.
To learn more about the artist CLICK HERE.
Front: President George Washington was chosen as the county is named after the first U.S. President and one of America's first veterans.
West Side: Revolutionary War soldiers in silhouette represent the Washington County residents who served in the Revolutionary War. They are Timothy Brown was born on April/May 30, 1762, in New Jersey. He died on January 3, 1852, in Washington County, Iowa. He was originally buried in a pioneer farm cemetery known as Todd Cemetery. In 1903, his gravesite was discovered by the editor of the Washington Democrat. The editor recognized that Brown had been a Revolutionary War soldier, who had served for three years under General Washington. His body was then moved to Soldier Circle in Elm Grove Cemetery in Washington, Iowa, where re-interment services were held on October 19, 1903. In 1908, a monument, paid for by the Iowa State Legislature and local citizens, was dedicated in his honor. The Washington Chapter NSDAR is responsible for perpetual care.
Samuel Lewis was born in 1766 in Ireland or Maryland. He died on December 21, 1851, in Washington County, Iowa, and was buried in Hillcrest Cemetery at Brighton, in south Washington County. The Washington Chapter NSDAR added a boulder on his grave with an inscribed bronze plaque that read, "Samuel Lewis, Revolutionary War Soldier 1766-1851." This dedication was performed on June 14, 1957.
Back Side: The back of the rock features a likeness of a Ding Darling cartoon of President Theodore Roosevelt. Darling was a prominent artist and cartoonist, and advocate for promotion and preservation of Iowa's natural resources and beauty. Lake Darling, which is located just 3 miles west of Brighton on the Ding Darling Highway, was named after the artist. The cartoon was chosen because Roosevelt was also a veteran. Also on the back are two wounded soldiers helping each other to safety alongside the Purple Heart Medal. These images represent and honor all those who were wounded in the line of duty.
East Side: The east facing side of the Freedom Rock is meant to represent and honor those who served in the Vietnam War. The soldier painted on the rock is a likeness of Sgt. Craig Rich of Brighton. Sgt. Rich was killed in action in 1968 while serving in Vietnam. He was just 21 years old at the time. To learn more about Sgt. Craig Rich please CLICK HERE.