Saluting 25 Years of The Freedom Rock With Ray “Bubba” Sorensen

Inspired by the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” Ray (Bubba) Sorensen II first honored veterans in 1999 by painting a patriotic mural on a 12-foot-high, 60-ton granite boulder located 10 miles north of Greenfield, Iowa. Memorial Day 2023 marks the 25th anniversary of The Freedom Rock®. Sorensen will spend this day as he always does – with his family, visiting travelers to The Rock and learning about veterans or their family members.


During the winter months Sorensen can be found painting indoor murals or outdoor murals in warm climates. He is also serving his third term in the Iowa House of Representatives.

A group of veterans, who stopped at The Freedom Rock as it was being painted in 2006, asked Sorensen if they could sprinkle some ashes of their fellow Vietnam veterans at the base of The Freedom Rock. Rather than have the ashes blow away, the artist offered to sprinkle the ashes into paint. He then painted those ashes on a Huey helicopter.

Although Sorensen paints a new tribute every year, he does not paint over the section of the rock that contains the veterans’ ashes. Repainting The (original) Freedom Rock annually is one way the Sorensen family pays respect to those who have served, encourages tourism across the state and instills patriotism in their children. Sorensen donates his time; supplies are either paid for out of his pocket or through The Freedom Rock store.

Each Freedom Rock tells a story of veterans from that area. Sorensen has painted a Freedom Rock in every Iowa county. The 100th Freedom Rock – and the final one for Iowa – was installed in June 2022 near the Adventureland Inn in Altoona.

Sorensen is securing bookings for the 50 State Freedom Rock Tour. To date, Freedom Rocks have been installed in the following states: Iowa (of course!), Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Washington. In addition, he has booked Ohio and Washington state.

You can take part of the 25th anniversary celebration of The Freedom Rock by purchasing a commemorative t-shirt, calendar or lapel pin. Click here to begin your own Freedom Rock Tour. My recommendation is to incorporate an ice cream road trip, as well as stops at Iowa’s Best Burger winners, with your Freedom Rock Tour.

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Art is a family affair. Bubba’s talented wife, Maria, is a photographer in addition to helping him with The Freedom Rock Tours and serving as a clerk for him in the Iowa House of Representatives. The couple also has three children: Independence (Indie); Michael (Mikey) named after Sorensen’s dad and great grandpa; and Liberty (a.k.a. Liberty Bell or Libby).


Bubba’s Favorite Roast


1 (3 lb.) Iowa Beef Eye of Round Roast and seasonings: salt, pepper and garlic


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Season the roast with salt, pepper and garlic rub. Place in a roasting pan or baking dish. Do NOT cover or add water.

Place roast in the preheated oven. Reduce temperature to 475 degrees. Roast for 21 minutes (seven minutes per pound) then turn off the oven and let the roast sit in the hot oven for 2.5 hours. Do NOT open the door at all during this time!

Remove the roast from the oven. Internal temperature should have reached at least 145 degrees.

Carve into thin slices and serve.