May 20, 2015 by Tammy Pearson
If this last weekend was any indication, Bubba Sorensen’s hopes of “connecting the dots” with Freedom Rocks across Iowa is well on its way to becoming a reality.
Sorensen, who is on his 17th year of painting the Freedom Rock on Highway 25 north of Greenfield, said he had three goals as he launched his efforts to paint a Freedom Rock in each of Iowa’s counties.
He wanted to honor veterans, promote Iowa tourism, and feed his family.
As Sorensen painted Saturday, the Armed Forces Day Freedom Ride participants, which numbered in the dozens, stopped to watch him work. They had just left Greenfield where they had packed the house at Olive Branch and where many had made stops at Casey’s and other places in town.
The group, based in Council Bluffs, had chartered a course that would take them to five area Freedom Rocks.
It’s exactly what Sorensen had hoped: that a desire to see the various Freedom Rocks would bring visitors through rural Iowa.
As Sorensen paints, visitors to Freedom Rock take pictures. He pauses to shake their hands as they thank him for honoring veterans with his art and compliment him on his talent.
Saturday, a steady stream of motorcycles made its way up Highway 25, providing an audience for Sorensen’s work.
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 available to help offset costs for the project.
Sorensen repaints the Freedom Rock north of Greenfield each year with new artwork paying tribute to veterans. This year’s design is his representation of the “Don’t Tread on Me” Gadsden Flag which features a coiled serpent.
A solider is depicted “carrying the weight of freedom on his shoulders,” said Sorensen. “This is me looking through the eyes of the Gadsden Flag,” he said.
Sorensen’s goal is to paint 10-13 Freedom Rocks a year in hopes of painting one in each of Iowa’s counties. He is in year three of what he estimates will be an 8-year project.
More about the art
This year, the south side of the Freedom Rock features “The Four Chaplains” who were a calming presence after their troop transport ship, the USS Dorchester, was hit by a torpedo in the early morning hours of Feb. 3, 1943.
After organizing an orderly evacuation but running out of life vests, each chaplain removed his own life vest and gave it to others. The chaplains then locked arms, said prayers and sang hymns as the ship sank.
The east side features the American flag.
On the north side, a Huey helicopter is painted with green paint containing the ashes of fallen Vietnam veterans. Above that will be the famous Vietnam sniper Carlos Hathcock, also known as White Feather. He was famous for killing an enemy NVA sniper by shooting him through the enemy sniper’s scope at a long distance.
The Freedom Rock Tour
This year, Sorensen has already painted Freedom Rocks in Lewis (Cass County), Everly (Clay County), and Leon (Decatur County).
This year, Sorensen will make stops in Maxwell (Story County), Whittemore (Kossuth County), Ackley (Hardin County), Dows (Wright County), Emerson (Mills County), Livermore (Humboldt County), Corydon (Wayne County), Cedar Falls (Black Hawk County), Manilla (Crawford County) and Solon (Johnson County).
The Freedom Rock Tour is sponsored by the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation of Iowa Falls, Iowa, and Aluma Trailers of Bancroft, Iowa.
For more information, visit www.thefreedomrock.com.
Courtesy of Tammy Pearson, Adair County Free Press, 5/20/15.