18 years ago, an Iowa man painted a giant rock to pay tribute to veterans. Little did he know what he'd started.

The massive rock is in Menlo, just north of Interstate 80 in central Iowa, about 45 miles west of Des Moines. The man who painted it is Ray "Bubba" Sorensen II. Sorensen, a mural painter, received such an incredible response to his original painting of what's known as "The Freedom Rock," that he decided to paint it with a new theme each spring in advance of Memorial Day. He's finishing his 18th transformation of the Freedom Rock this month. These are just a few of the incredible tributes he's created:

A few years ago, Sorensen decided to paint a Freedom Rock in all of Iowa's 99 counties. He has a growing family and wanted to provide for them, honor America's veterans, and promote Iowa tourism. He's done all three. What's become known as the "Freedom Rock Tour" has been a resounding success.

Brain and Courtlin spoke to Ray, or Bubba as everyone calls him, about his life-changing endeavor:

Nearly 50 Iowa counties (in red) now have Freedom Rock's completed. The blue counties indicate those who have completed necessary paperwork and payment to reserve a Freedom Rock for their county. I'm happy to report Linn County is now one of those blue counties.

via The Freedom Rock.
The counties in RED already have a Freedom Rock. The counties in BLUE have booked a Freedom Rock.

I'd personally like to thank the Cedar Rapids Veterans Memorial Commission Executive Director, Mike Jager, and John Mikelson of Midwest Military Outreach for helping KHAK bring the Freedom Rock to Cedar Rapids. The Linn County Freedom Rock will be located near the All Veterans Memorial Park and Veterans Memorial Stadium in southwest Cedar Rapids.

We need your help to make the Linn County Freedom Rock a reality. If you'd like to donate, you may do so through Dupaco Community Credit Union. Credit Union members can call 800-373-7600 to donate. Members and non-members can drop off donations at any Dupaco location. Checks should be made payable to the "Linn County Freedom Rock Foundation." All donations are tax deductible. When the Linn County Freedom Rock is complete, any remaining money will be donated to Midwest Military Outreach.

I've made my donation in honor of my late grandfather, a Purple Heart recipient in World War II, and my dad and uncle, both veterans of the Vietnam War. Who will you honor?

Below are just some of the incredible salutes Sorensen has already created across our state. Although we don't have a timetable for the Linn County Freedom Rock's completion, I can't wait to see the finished product.