Painting of Freedom Rock begins

Years of planning for the Webster County version of the Freedom Rock is starting to come to fruition as artist Ray “Bubba” Sorenson II began painting the monument this week.

The Freedom Rock is located at Second Avenue South and A Street in Fort Dodge.

Sorenson, of Greenfield, said he arrived in town Sunday night and began painting the following day.

There will be multiple themes to the design of the Webster County Freedom Rock.

“Right here the design will be a combination of the homeless veteran and a veteran with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),” Sorenson said.

The painting will feature a veteran screaming while another veteran, standing next to him, is comforting him.

“He’s got a lot of stuff going on in his head,” Sorenson said. “It’ll be addressing that.”

In addition to focusing on PTSD, Sorenson said the rock will also feature a painting of a veteran sleeping near the bottom of the rock. This represents homeless veterans.

The idea for the design came about after speaking with John Enderlin, of Fort Dodge, who has been coordinating the project.

That’s usually how the designs for Freedom Rocks are agreed upon, according to Sorenson.

“I ask what they want,” he said. “They’ll have an idea and I’ll have an idea and usually we meet in the middle. I come up with the design.”

He added that Webster County’s Freedom Rock is unique in that cremains of veterans will be included in Sorenson’s paint.

He expects he’ll be done with the mural by the weekend.

“It takes anywhere from six to eight days,” Sorenson said.

Iowa’s first Freedom Rock was created in 1999 when Sorensen painted the one near Menlo. It is repainted every year with new images.

In 2013, Sorensen began a campaign to place a Freedom Rock in all 99 Iowa counties.

Webster County’s Freedom Rock is the 46th that Sorenson has painted.

Once he’s done in Fort Dodge, Sorenson said he’ll be going back to Menlo to repaint the original rock.

As he prepared to continue his work on the Webster County mural, he said the canvas he’s working on is a good one.

“This is a nice, good rock with flat feature sides,” Sorenson said. “You can’t get much better than that.”

Enderlin said Monday that an official dedication date for Webster County’s Freedom Rock has not yet been determined, but he hopes to have one scheduled for sometime in the fall.


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