Using a rock as his canvas, an Iowa painter is honoring the men and women of the military. Ray “Bubba” Sorensen is putting the finishing touches on a 12 foot, 90 ton rock. Each side of The Freedom Rock tells a story.
“It’s kind of like a jigsaw puzzle and I just like to tell a bunch of stories and as a whole it’s always a thank you to veterans,” says Sorensen who is finishing his 14th mural.
The Huey helicopter is the only thing that stays the same.
“It always stays because it has the ashes of 30 different Vietnam veterans mixed into the paint and I add more ashes every year,” he says.
“People send them their ashes and bone fragments so they can paint them into the rock. Now that is something. That is so sentimental,” says Mike Smith of Mason City.
Visitors travel hundreds of miles to see the tribute to the men and women in uniform.
“On the south side is the Sullivan brothers and this is the ship, the USS Juneau that went down and they were all five lost in World War Two,” says Sorensen.
A steady line of people came early to beat the Memorial Day crowd.
“All you gotta be to appreciate this is a person who appreciates their freedom. That’s all it takes. The sacrifices and the suffering so we can do something like this on a windy day,” says Lowell Forristall of Carson.
Sorensen isn’t finished yet. He plans to add a few final touches before putting down his paint brush for another year.
“I’m glad that I’ve put in that time, that effort and people are getting what’s in my head that I’m putting on canvas or rock” he says.
Sorensen will officially unveil The Freedom Rock on Memorial Day. You can check it out for yourself. Just take I-80 to the Greenfield-Guthrie Center exit. It’s just about a mile south of the interstate.