Communities throughout Pottawattamie County honor and commemorate veterans in various ways. If you follow the Stars and Bronze Tribute Trail, you will discover our local heroes! 

This self-guided trail takes you to each town in Pottawattamie County and is a great way to get outdoors, explore the beautiful county, and celebrate the lives of our veterans. 

Since 2007, each community has raised funds so that every town in the county has an “Eagles of Honor”, a hand-crafted bronze eagle sculpture to honor and thank all military veterans and their families. Each eagle is unique and features a variation on the theme of honor. The Eagles of Honor sculptures were made by artist Russell Christensen from Neola, Iowa. For the names and locations for all of the statues, visit our Eagle of Honor listing!

In Chautauqua Park in Oakland, you will find the Pottawattamie Freedom Rock that honors four local veterans. The rock was painted in 2017 as part of a state-wide Freedom Rock Tour created by artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen. The tour was designated to honor veterans and provide a unique piece of art to each of Iowa’s 99 counties.

In Council Bluffs, there are several memorials and plazas that commemorate our veterans and first responders. In Bayliss Park, the Veterans Plaza features the names of veterans from all branches of the military from the Civil War to the War on Terror, who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. The plaza was sculpted by famed artist John Lajba. 

Located close to Bayliss Park, you will find the First Responder Public Safety Plaza. Lifesize bronze statues depict first responders from the Council Bluffs fire department, highway patrol, police department, sheriff department, and 911 call center. This plaza is dedicated to honoring all these local heroes. A walkway, representing the 911 call center that connects them, guides visitors between statues for a moment of respect and reflection.

Another meaningful spot to check out is the Deputy Mark Burbridge Memorial located outside of the Historic Squirrel Cage Jail. This blue horse without a rider honors Deputy Mark Burbridge, who was slain while on duty in 2017 in an attempted jail escape. The horse is covered in images important to Burbridge, including motorcycles and a Sheriff’s badge. 

All of the memorials, statues, and plazas along the Stars and Bronze Tribute Trail showcase the passion that Pottawattamie County residents have for memorializing and honoring the local heroes that have sacrificed so much for our county. Visiting the trail is a great way to get to know Pottawattamie County!

For more trails to explore in Pottawattamie County, visit our Trail Capitol of Iowa page! Experience the old, the new, the historic, the unknown, the heartwarming, and the fun trails. They’re all here in Pottawattamie County, Iowa! 

This post was originally published on October 26, 2020 on the Watta Way blog.