GREENFIELD — Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II, artist of The Freedom Rock in Adair County, has begun painting for the 15th year. In honor of Memorial Day, Sorensen repaints this 12-foot tall, approximately 60-ton national landmark to pay tribute to military men and women.
Sorensen’s work was delayed because of extreme winter weather conditions in spring.
“The weather was starting to scare me there for a bit but I’m excited to finally get out here and get started,” Sorensen said. “In honor of the 15th year, I have a few new ideas that I’m excited to try out.”
The image on the front (west) side of the rock features a grief-stricken scene at a military cemetery with a wife laying in front of her husband’s gravestone as his ghost leans in to comfort her.
The north side of The Freedom Rock will have the green Huey Helicopter painted with paint containing the remains of nearly 45 different Vietnam veterans, as well as a portrait of Joe R. Hooper, a highly-decorated Vietnam veteran.
The south side will pay tribute to the recently lost SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, and the east side will be remembering the Korean War and a few of its veterans.
The Freedom Rock license plate is still an active project in which Sorensen will have to collect 500 paid applications in order to start production.
This will be the fourth year for The Freedom Rock calendar, which features past years of Sorensen’s work, as well as different veterans biographies and pictures.
Sorensen kicked off his Iowa Freedom Rock tour in April, where he painted a rock in Pocahontas County (Rolfe). Since then, Sorensen just finished a Freedom Rock in Diagonal (Ringgold County). Both are part of a statewide effort to place a rock in each county in Iowa. After the original Freedom Rock is completed, Sorensen will head to Polk County.
Sorensen said the tour will “take a few years to complete” and is “eager to accomplish this Iowa tourism project.”
While Sorensen is not commissioned to paint the original Freedom Rock in Menlo, he will be commissioned to paint each of the rocks on the Freedom Rock Tour.
“I kept getting inquiries from different towns to paint a Freedom Rock in their community, and I’m a full-time mural artist, so that is when I thought of the tour idea,” Sorensen said. “The Freedom Rock tour is a project aimed at supporting Iowa Tourism, all the while raising awareness for our veterans.”
The Freedom Rock tour is sponsored by Valspar Paint, Casey’s General Stores and Champion Ford in Carroll.
Sorensen plans to paint in 10 different counties during the spring and summer. For a list of complete counties booked for the tour, visit www.thefreedomrock.com.
Sorensen plans to be at The Freedom Rock over Memorial Day weekend, including Memorial Day, to meet with visitors. Calendars, as well as other merchandise, are also available to helps raise funds for the project.