Patriotic Rock in Rural Iowa

This is several years old, but Murdoc hadn’t seen it before. A reader tipped him off to it just now, and it’s apparently the real deal. Here’s the email that the reader forwarded:

I’m told that there is a huge rock near a gravel pit on Hwy.25 in rural Iowa. For generations, kids have painted slogans, names, and obscenities on this rock, changing it’s character many times. A few months back, the rock received its latest paint job, and since then it has been left completely undisturbed. It’s quite an impressive sight. Be sure to scroll down and check out the multiple photos (all angles) of the rock. I thought the flag was draped over the rock, but it’s not. It’s actually painted on the rock too.

Here’s one of the pictures:


Snopes marks the story TRUE.

Here’s some more info and pics:

The object captured in the images displayed above is a 12-foot-high, 56-ton rock which stands alongside Highway 25 in Iowa, about a mile south of the town of Greenfield exit from Interstate 80. For years it featured nothing but graffiti scrawled upon its face by a host of itinerant youngsters — until 1999, when a young man who had grown up in Greenfield was inspired by the film Saving Private Ryan to make better use of the natural canvas.

Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II, now a Des Moines resident who works as an ad/web designer, was a 19-year-old Iowa State University student who had seen the Greenfield rock many times before when, around Memorial Day in 1999, he decided to begin what has become an ongoing artistic tribute to America’s veterans:

It was right around Memorial Day, and I was driving by that rock and wondered what it would be like if I actually took the time to go out there and paint it. And so I painted it with the flag-raising at Iwo Jima. I got such a huge response that I kept painting it. I’ve been painting it for the last five years with tributes to veterans on Memorial Day.

Each year around Memorial Day, Ray uses white paint to cover over his previous year’s work, then spends one to three weeks creating new scenes on his blank canvas. The photographs shown above capture the 2003-04 version of the famous Iowa rock, which featured scenes depicting Washington’s crossing of the Delaware, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and America’s response to the September 11 terrorist attacks, interspersed with quotes from presidents Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy, and George W. Bush, all capped by renderings of draped American and POW/MIA flags.

Only once in the six years he has been painting the rock has his work been defaced, Ray told an American Forces Press Service reporter: his 60th anniversary tribute to veterans of the Pearl Harbor attack painted in 2001 was vandalized a few weeks after it was completed, but the perpetrator “got a punch in the face from a Vietnam War veteran for his trouble,” and his work has remained undisturbed ever since.

What did violence ever solve? Well, it solved that problem, at least.

Seems to Murdoc that this is a great tribute to those folks us ordinary Americans should be so thankful for.