13 June 2013

Polk County is First on Muralist's 'Freedom Rock' Tour

Photo: Iowa Remembers Inc.
In a tradition started in 1999, Ray "Bubba" Sorenson annually paints patriotic scenes and symbols on the Freedom Rock, a 60-ton boulder located near Menlo, Iowa. Now, as part of a recently announced "Freedom Rock Tour," the artist to bring the Freedom Rock franchise to each of Iowa's 99 counties.

In the first such installation, a new Polk County Freedom Rock will be dedicated in a ceremony Fri., June 14, 3:00 p.m. at the American Legion Post 396, 315 2nd St NW, Bondurant, Iowa.

Because June 14 is also Flag Day, the post will also conduct its annual ceremony for disposal of unserviceable flags following the Freedom Rock event.

The Polk County rock depicts an honor guard of U.S. service members from all eras, including a contemporary soldier wearing a 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division (34th Inf. Div.) shoulder patch. The obverse of the rock depicts a version of the Iowa state flag, which features an eagle superimposed on the French tricolor. In its beak, the eagle carries the state motto, "Our Liberties We Prize, and our Rights We Will Maintain."

The Polk County project is underwritten by Iowa Remembers, a non-profit organization that also helps fund an annual retreat and workshop for families of Iowa's war dead. Every September, the organization conducts an 5K "Remembrance Run" as part of its fund-raising efforts.

According to the group: "This is the first time Bubba has incorporated the Iowa flag into a Freedom Rock. He has captured perfectly the vision we have at Iowa Remembers by honoring and remembering Iowans from all branches of the service especially our fallen heroes. Always Remember ... Never Forget."

Photo: The Freedom Rock
The 2013 version of the original Freedom Rock, located in Menlo, depicts a female figure laying at the tombstone of Staff Sgt. James A. Justice, an Iowa National Guard soldier who was killed during the 2010-2011 deployment of 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Inf. Div. 2010-2011 to Eastern Afghanistan.

Waiting out some bad summer weather in Bondurant, Sorenson also recently sketched a tribute to the 34th Inf. Div. and posted it to the Freedom Rock's Facebook page.

"For those not familiar with them they are a storied division of our National Guard," the artist wrote. "I had a thought of a soldier crouched in attack position with the spirit of a large 'Red Bull' turning to attack as well, representing all the Red Bull Veterans that have come before him. Hope you enjoy it!"
Photo: The Freedom Rock

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