It just sat there becoming a canvas for vandals with a can of spray paint. When they painted a holiday scene with Santa dropping his pants, mooning all passers-by, Bubba Sorensen had a better idea.
Honoring Veterans in Iowa
Just a few weeks before Santa Claus exposed his hindquarters on Highway 25, Bubba sat in a movie theater watching “Saving Private Ryan” for the first time. Like so many of us, Bubba was moved by the horrors of war and the valor of those soldiers. That Private Ryan and his brothers were good old Iowa boys might have had something to do with his strong reaction.
So Bubba grabbed a couple of cans of paint of his own along with the pictures of veterans from Adair County who had served this country. Slowly, he applied his talent and respect to that big boulder, creating images that evoked patriotism and appreciation. He worked in the images and stories of veterans as far back as the War of 1812 up until the current conflict in the Middle East.
That was in 1999 and each year, Bubba has returned to the big rock on Highway 25 to create a fresh image honoring new soldiers and telling new stories. At times, he has been asked to mix in the ashes of a fallen soldier from Adair County, which he has done without hesitation.
Over the years, it’s become known as The Freedom Rock and Bubba has been asked to create similar tributes in counties throughout Iowa. Freedom Rocks now decorate more than half of Iowa’s 99 counties.
Freedom Rocks Throughout Iowa
Not once in all of these years has the rock been vandalized in any way. And I’m quite sure Santa is happier with his pants on.