Freedom Rock Tour comes to Saint Robert, Missouri

By Laura Huffman

Saint Robert, Missouri Mayor George Lauritson couldn’t imagine a better location to host a Freedom Rock than Pulaski County’s patriotic “Gateway to Fort Leonard Wood.” During a previous tenure as Mayor, in 2002, Lauritson brought the tanks that are displayed throughout the city to town. He had also envisioned a “Military Rock Art Park” that displayed crests and symbols from units attached to Ft. Leonard Wood. In his most recent term of service as Mayor he has been able to turn that vision into reality at a location between Interstate 44 and St. Robert Boulevard.

Saint Robert's Military Rock Display

Saint Robert’s Military Rock Display. Image courtesy of Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

Michael Myers, now a Saint Robert alderman, noticed that the military rock art reminded him of Freedom Rocks that he had seen across Iowa. Myers approached City Council and after particulars were hammered out between city officials and the artist, Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II, it was announced that Saint Robert would be the location of Missouri’s third Freedom Rock.

The Freedom Rock project began in Greenfield, Iowa after Sorensen watched “Saving Private Ryan.” Sorensen decided that he would cover up the graffiti on a large rock beside the highway near town with a mural thanking America’s veterans. Since 1999 Sorensen has returned to the original Greenfield Freedom Rock and painted a new tribute each year before Memorial Day. The Greenfield Freedom Rock is especially poignant as veterans have asked to have their ashes mixed into Sorensen’s paint.

The Freedom Rock 2017

The Freedom Rock, Greenfield, Iowa, 2017 rendition. Image courtesy of the artist, Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II.

Sorensen’s paint isn’t the typical “off the rack” paint found at local hardware and home improvement stores. The natural pigment used in some of his blue hued paint is mined in Afghanistan and the finished paint can cost as much as $600 a gallon. The canvas for Sorensen’s Freedom Rock at Saint Robert is a slab of Missouri limestone, quarried at Laquey, in Pulaski County, measuring 9 feet by 10 feet at its widest point. The unpainted rock slab has a retail value of approximately $12,000. The limestone rock is set in 12 inches of concrete and a structure has been built over the stone to help protect it from the elements.

Many of the Freedom Rocks use a granite slab as Sorensen’s canvas. He states that Saint Robert’s porous limestone Freedom Rock creates challenges and will give it a different look than some of the ones that he has previously painted. His methodology remains the same though—a quick “scrape” of Missouri’s military history for inspiration and then sketching his vision directly onto the rock itself in pencil before bringing the detailed work to life with vivid colors.

Saint Robert’s Freedom Rock will feature Medal of Honor recipient General Leonard Wood and the Rough Rider era. It also will pay tribute to Fort Wood’s history as a training installation with a scene of a Drill Sergeant interacting with soldier-in-training during basic combat training. The reverse side of the limestone will depict “The Spirit of Pulaski County,” a North American P-51 Mustang aircraft that was purchased for the World War II effort  during the third War Loan Drive. The “skinny side” of the slab will be painted with the Fallen Soldier Battle Cross and the top of the rock will be draped in a painted American flag.

Sorensen’s Freedom Rocks are crafted with endurance in mind. Other than the original Freedom Rock, he does not return to repaint them. The quality of materials that he uses and three protective sealants, including one layer of vandal frustrating sealer, should protect the vividness of his art work and images for forty years.

Sorensen is excited to unveil his latest Freedom Rock in Saint Robert, Missouri’s second Purple Heart City. He noted that motor coaches in Iowa plan day trips that center around visiting four or five of his rocks. “Freedom Rock groupies” travel to visit each installation. Karen Hood, CTIS, Military Reunion Coordinator for Pulaski County Tourism Bureau commented that reunion groups will especially appreciate the patriotic tribute. Leisure travelers planning a Freedom Rock themed road trip will be able to explore Missouri’s northeast (Maryville) to the stunning Ozarks of the south central region (Saint Robert) before traveling to southeast riverside town of Cape Girardeau.

Missouri's First Freedom Rock, Maryville, Missouri

Missouri’s First Freedom Rock, Maryville, Missouri. Image courtesy of the artist, Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II.

Cape Girardeau Freedom Rock

Missouri’s Second Freedom Rock, Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Image courtesy of the artist, Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II.

Mayor Lauritson and the City Council plan to continue the celebration of Saint Robert’s patriotism after the Freedom Rock is completed. The brick chimney from the former U.S.O. is being rebuilt alongside Missouri Boulevard and the site will play host to another rock- this one recognizing Missouri’s Medal of Honor recipients as well as the Show Me State’s missing in action service members. Lauritson would also like for that area to include displays honoring the Navy and Marines, and possibly a fighter plane to symbolize the Air Force.

An official unveiling ceremony for Saint Robert’s Freedom Rock will be announced soon.

For more things to see and do in Pulaski County, Missouri, please visit http://www.PulaskiCountyUSA.com

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St. Robert Military Tribute to feature Freedom Rock

City of Saint Robert logo
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT:
Robert Incontro
City of Saint Robert
573-451-2625
park@saintrobert.com
saintrobert.com

Acclaimed Artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen to Paint City of St. Robert Freedom Rock

Saint Robert, MO March 28, 2017 – The City of Saint Robert is pleased to announce that we have emplaced a large slab of Missouri limestone that will become a part of the Freedom Rock Tour. The Freedom Rock Tour is an effort by artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II to paint unique, patriotic murals on rocks around the country. Sorensen started by painting a large rock in his native Iowa and began traveling the state painting murals in different towns that reflected the town’s history and connection with the Armed Forces as a way to honor them. This has since grown into a national effort with rocks painted in three states with the ultimate goal of two in all fifty states. Bubba Sorensen has been painting rocks for approximately 18 years and is well versed on preparation and painting for longevity. Bubba is also known internationally for his artwork.

The City of St. Robert Freedom Rock is approximately nine feet by 10 feet at its widest point. The size was a challenge to move and set, our rock is set in 12 inches of concrete. The intent of this project is to honor Saint Robert’s and the surrounding communities’ veterans and service members with a unique tribute recognizing their sacrifice. Additionally it will serve to highlight this area’s connection with the Armed Forces and Fort Leonard Wood. We hope that it will draw interest to the area from both locals and citizens across the country that have begun traveling to see the murals painted by Sorensen known as The Freedom Rock Tour.

The rock is located on Saint Robert Boulevard adjacent to our current St. Robert Military Tribute display and M60 Tank. Now that the rock has been emplaced, Sorensen is set to arrive and begin painting in late August and finish by September 11th, 2017. An enclosure will be built over the rock to protect it from the elements and to preserve the mural. After completion of work, a formal unveiling ceremony will be held. The public is encouraged to come out and watch while work is underway.

Any questions or media requests can be directed to the City of Saint Robert, 573-451-2000 extension 1307, or park@saintrobert.com. Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/City-of-Saint-Robert-Missouri-146291922095875. Bubba Sorensen’s work can be viewed at TheFeedomRock.com.