In honor of Memorial Day, Ray “Bubba” Sorensen repaints a 12-foot tall, approximately 60-90-ton boulder at the corner of 120th Street and Highway 25, south of Interstate 80 in northern Adair County, to pay tribute to our military men and women.
Sorensen started painting the original Freedom Rock the second week of May and finished it by Memorial Day. People from all 50 states and several countries visit the original Freedom Rock each year, but especially Memorial Day weekend.
“For the 25th version of the original Freedom Rock, rather than a collection of random veterans’ stories, I wanted a constant theme all away around the giant boulder,” Sorensen commented. “Also, since the original Freedom Rock is visited by all 50 states and many other countries, I consider it ‘America’s Rock,’ and I didn’t focus on Iowa veterans, rather the veterans’ incredible stories.”
This year’s version is of Medal of Honor recipients who gave their life in service to their country. For each recipient, Sorensen illustrated their portrait, a “freeze frame” of what their action may have been like, their medal and their gravestone.
On the front, World War II veteran Freddie Stowers is featured. On the south side is World War II veteran Samuel D. Dealey. Then there is Korean War veteran Jack Glennon Hanson, Vietnam veterans William H. Pitsenbarger and Miguel Kieth. The rock wraps up with Afghanistan and Navy Seal veteran Michael Murphy.
“All these men accomplished amazing feats in the face of overwhelming odds to save the lives of their brothers in arms, truly going above and beyond the call of duty,” Sorensen said.
Sorensen is not commissioned for his work on the original Freedom Rock. He works as an independent mural artist, having completed the Iowa Freedom Rock Tour last September. Now he is working on the 50 State Freedom Rock Tour.
“I always say I have three goals with The Freedom Rock Tour and that is to honor America’s veterans, promote tourism and provide for my family,” Sorensen said.
Sorensen’s oldest two children, Indie and Michael, enjoy helping him in the early stages of many Freedom Rocks, including the original, filling in sketched areas at his discretion, and his littlest, Liberty, has even scribbled a bit of paint on as well.