Grain silos along railroad tracks are often abandoned and neglected. For a long time, that was the fate of the silo on Front Street in Monett, Mo., until the city decided to turn it into a beacon of beauty.
After visiting a dairy farm in the area, I traveled through this small southwest Missouri town. My eyes wandered and then fixated on a large eagle. It was painted on an old grain silo down by the rail yard. Of course, I had to stop. Around the other side was an amazing depiction of the American flag.
Dubbed the “Freedom Silo,” it was painted by Raine Clotfelter, who lives in Branson and is known as America’s muralist. After learning a little of Clotfelter’s background — he is a retired U.S. Navy illustrator draftsman petty officer first class who joined the Navy in 1983 — it only made sense that he could paint such an amazing piece of art on an old grain silo.
The Freedom Silo project took about two years. The silo itself is 55 feet tall and 88 feet wide. In an interview with a local TV station, Clotfelter, who had already completed a historical mural of the city, said he suggested “something for our country, something nice and patriotic.”
So, the logical choice was two icons of American patriotism. He completed the bald eagle and American flag in the midst of COVID-19, and the city dedicated the grain silo mural Oct. 10, 2020.
Rural America never disappoints me. I am constantly in awe of its people who care about each other and their country. They go great lengths to show their loyalty, whether it is buying from a 4-H bake sale, shaving their heads to support a cancer patient, or painting a mural showing their pride and devotion.
If you want that feeling, head down to Monett and stand at the base of a grain silo and look up. Your heart will swell; I guarantee it.
For a view of the Freedom Silo, click on the video above.