Freedom Rock honors America, veterans and Iowa

Freedom Rock

Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II just wanted to show his appreciation for the men and women who have served the United States in the military. So, in 1999, the then-19-year-old painted a large rock near Greenfield, Iowa, with a patriotic message: “Thank you veterans for our freedom.”

Now, 17 years later, Sorensen’s latest “thank you” painting attracts drivers off Interstate 80 at the Greenfield exit. The Freedom Rock – as it has become known – even has a tourist attraction marker on the interstate in western Iowa. It’s located at mile marker 85.

We stopped there last year and were amazed at the beautiful work. We visited again this Memorial Day weekend.

Freedom Rock

Bubba repaints the 60-ton boulder annually. People can visit his website ( to see past paintings.

How does Bubba come up with his plan for the rock each year? About two weeks before Memorial Day, he starts the process. He comes in with a blank slate and decides what he wants to feature.

This year, the rock honors “The Four Chaplains.” The four men sacrificed their lives in order to save people as the troop ship SS Dorchester sank in 1943.

A second panel shows a soldier with the words “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Freedom Rock

Another panel features a soldier and helicopter in Vietnam.

Freedom Rock

My favorite part of the rock is the lay of the American flag.

Freedom Rock

Sorensen has a great eye for art and he communicates his message well. You can’t leave after visiting the Freedom Rock without feeling some sort of patriotism, appreciation and gratefulness for those who have served and for Sorensen’s work.

Bubba has taken on the challenge – The Freedom Rock Tour. He plans to paint a Freedom Rock in each of Iowa’s 99 counties. The painting he does in each county will have a special coating that will sustain it for years.

Freedom Rock
2014 Freedom Rock

He has completed his 29th painting for the counties tour. He dedicates April-October for the Freedom Rock tour.

“(His goal) is to thank veterans, promote Iowa tourism and feed my family,” Bubba said.

Bubba researches each county he plans to work with prior to his project. He consults local Freedom Rock committees. He wants the county pieces to represent local military heritage. He is currently booked through 2020 for the statewide project. He paints 10-12 Freedom Rocks a year.

Freedom Rock
People post tags and more at the site of the Rock for their loved ones.

The Freedom Rock Tour is funded through donations. During his “offseason,” Bubba earns his living painting murals for businesses, schools and veterans groups.

As a veteran, I appreciate the thanks and the love for his country that Bubba feels. He dedicates his time annually to painting the original Freedom Rock. No one makes him do this. His dedication is second to none.

The Freedom Rock is available for viewing any time of the year. So, if you are driving along I-80 and see the tourist attraction sign, take 15-20 minutes off your trip. Drive the mile south of the interstate and you’ll appreciate some beautiful work.

For more information on the Freedom Rock and Bubba, please visit