ROLFE, Iowa — It’s been going for twenty years now, the Iowa Freedom Rock. Artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen began by painting a rock near Greenfield in Adair County.
When I started the original Freedom Rock, I saw the movie saving Private Ryan,” said Sorensen. “I wanted to say thank you to veterans so I went out and painted thank you veterans for our freedom.”
He then continued painting the rock every year before Memorial Day.
“We eventually started a mural painting and photography business my wife and I,“ said Sorensen. “From that came about the idea for the Freedom Rock Tour.”
He thought first of a national tour, and then at the suggestion of his wife, Maria, he decided to do one in every one of Iowa’s 99 counties.
“I have 87 of them completed, we have 12 left to go,” said Sorensen.
One of the first away from Greenfield to be painted was for Dan and Roger Allen, in the Pocahontas County town of Rolfe.
“In the summertime we have people come through all the time,” said Roger Allen. “We did have dozen of those, those Navy SEALs who stopped in, they retired but you couldn’t tell by looking at them.”
The Allens have the rock mounted in Dan’s yard along with other patriotic symbols, including a couple of eagles, and a “Freedom Bell” also painted by Sorensen, that bell was once in a local church. Sorensen is not sure when the final 12 rocks will be painted, but he is also planning a 100th rock to be auctioned off to a community that did not get a Freedom Rock. The proceeds from that auction will be given to a veterans' charity. Sorensen also has another side job, serving as a state representative in Iowa House District 20.
“It’s a lot more meetings a lot more talking when I’m out painting the rock the rock doesn’t talk back,” said Sorensen.
Many of the Freedom Rocks are completed, so people can take their own “Freedom Rock Tour,” at their own pace. To find out where they are located you can check the Freedom Rock Website, with a list of locations and a Google Map showing the locations.