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 Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, December 15, 2016, Page 1

Freedom Rock Artist Ray "Bubba" Sorensen is at work painting a veterans tribute mural in the lobby at the Ringgold County Courthouse.

Freedom Rock artist painting courthouse mural
By Curtis Riggs

Freedom Rock artist Ray "Bubba" Sorensen is painting a veteran's tribute mural on the ground floor of the court house about a Mexican-American battle scene where Ringgold County founder Major Samuel Ringgold lost a leg.

Coodinator's Note: According to Major Ringgold's biography, both of his legs were gravely wounded during the battle at Palo Alto (1846) and were amputated. Major Ringgold died three days later. Ringgold County was established the following year in 1847 and named after Major Ringgold, a war hero. There is no indication that Major Ringgold was ever in Iowa.

Sorensen, a painter from Greenfield, is best known for the Freedom Rocks he has painted around the state ever since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He paints the Freedom Rocks and the murals as a way of thanking veterans for their military service.

The courthouse mural is a scene from the Battle of Palo Alto, which was fought just north of modern-day Brownsville, Texas. Maj. Ringgold lost a leg in this battle. He died from his injuries a couple of days later.

Ringgold was known as the "Father of Modern Artillery" because of the procedures he developed for moving cannon and other military equipment around battlefields during battle.Sorensen also painted a panel showing a military timeline and a panel depicting what occurs on the home front when wars are fought. The home front panel features Rosie the Riveter, an iconic World War II home front character, and fire and medical first responders who play an even bigger role at home during times of war.

Sorensen was chosen to do the mural by a committee of Ringgold County officials and other citizens.

Ringgold County auditor Amanda Waske, who served on the committee stresses that very little taxpayer money was used on the mural.

"We are so excited to be able to bring this project to our county and honor those who served," Waske said in a press release. "A portion of the mural reflecting the various military time periods is person to those who served in our county so that makes this mural even more special. Bubba is a tremendous artist. He took our vision and is bringing it to life. We cannot wait to see the finished project."

Sorensen enjoyed the change to a flat surface for one of his projects. He also likes to talk to passers-by about the mural, Maj. Ringgold and military history in general.

He got the idea to do the patriotic paintings after the 9/11 attacks. His patriotic spirit grew after seeing the movie "Saving Private Ryan."

"After the first Freedom Rock, I fell in love with painting outside and painting big," he said. "I enjoy the challenge."

Sorenson said he would have liked to paint the mural using oil paint but was concerned about how long it would take the oil paint to dry. Instead he used acrylic paint, which dries much faster.

When Sorensen's work is finished, Ringgold County residents will have not only have a beautiful mural to showcase but also a visual reminder of Ringgold County history and the sacrifices made by all military and civilian families in times of war.

Photographs courtsey of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, April of 2017

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