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Mount Ayr Unveils Freedom Rock to Honor Hometown Hero Peggy Whitson

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MOUNT AYR, Iowa -- The beautiful weather Saturday made it the perfect day for the hometown of one of America’s most accomplished astronauts to pay tribute to her legacy.

Community members unveiled the Peggy Whitson Freedom Rock in Mount Ayr Saturday afternoon.

Whitson served as commander of the International Space Station. At 665 total days, she spent more time in space than any other woman, and she holds the record for most space walks as a woman. She retired from NASA in 2018.

Whitson grew up on a farm near Beaconsfield and graduated from Mount Ayr High School where she also played basketball.

“She is absolutely loved, and she's such a huge inspiration. And that inspiration obviously carried me through the artwork,” said artist Ray "Bubba" Sorensen.

"She's really opened up a lot of things for women in America and in the world. She's the reason why this rock is here,” said Ken Robertson, the project's founder.

Organizers had planned to unveil the rock in February on Whitson's birthday, but they were forced to reschedule due to harsh weather. Whitson was originally slated to attend but couldn't make it because of the schedule change.

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