Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Make your Memorial Day memorable

Every year, veterans from across the country make a pilgrimage to the Freedom Rock over Memorial Day weekend and you can, too. To honor veterans, Ray “Bubba” Sorenson has painted a different war veteran’s tribute on the same huge rock every year since 1999. Sorenson paints the rock as a way to give back to our veterans, and as a reminder that “Memorial Day isn’t just a three-day weekend.”

Our family visited Freedom Rock over a Memorial Day weekend once. I anticipated stopping at the rock, glancing at the painting, hopping back into the van and heading home. What I didn’t anticipate was being truly humbled by the presence of veterans of several U.S. combats, and seeing first hand how honored veterans feel about the painting.

When we stepped out of the van, we heard motorcycles, lots of loud motorcycles. We looked towards the road and witnessed a caravan of at least 50 (and probably more) motorcycles with Vietnam Veterans pulling up to the parking lot. We watched as they lined up, dismounted their bikes and then quietly visited Freedom Rock. I realized in awe that the paintings on the Freedom Rock have an incredible power to help ease the pain of so many veterans. The sincere tribute of “Bubba” isn’t just about the art, but understanding the sacrifices our veterans have made for our country and how honored they are by the paintings.

The Freedom Rock is located south of I-80 on Hwy. 25 near Greenfield. Check out photos from previous years.

Want some other Memorial Day weekend ideas? Check out these events:

  • Celebrate John Wayne’s birthday May 25 – 26 in Winterset.
  • The North Liberty Blues & BBQ - named the Attraction of the Year by the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau – is slated for Saturday, May 26, and is free to the public. 
  • The first ever Bicycle Festival will take place in Jefferson on Saturday, May 26, and feature bicycle education, fashion, art and food. 
  • Tivoli Fest is a Danish-American celebration held in Elk Horn May 26 – 27. Experience Danish history, hospitality and, of course, food. 
  • Remember the War of 1812 at Old Fort Madison’s Bicentennial Memorial Dedication in Fort Madison. A re-enactment, memorial and interpretive sign dedication will be featured from May 26 – 28.

LuAnn Reinders, Iowa Tourism Office

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