American History 101.4
Part 4 of “My Life Among Eighth Graders.” To read parts 1-3, Click HERE.
Our first full day in Washington D.C. began at The United States Marine Corp War Memorial, more commonly known as the Iwo Jima Memorial. Dedicated to all Marines who have given their lives in battle, the structure recreates perhaps the most famous photograph of World War II; the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi by six service men (see below), three of whom would not survive the later phases of the battle to seize and hold the tiny yet strategic Pacific island.
The raising of the flag on Mount Suribachi, from the opposite angle of the famous photograph. The names and dates of all Marine Corp battles since 1775 are engraved and burnished in gold around the base of the monument.
The massive three dimensional bronze replication of Joe Rosenthal’s Pulitzer Prize winning photograph took more than three years to cast and assemble even after the sculpting work was completed. It was dedicated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on November 10, 1954.
A tribute from Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz also appears on the base
Our wonderfully passionate guide, Greg St. Jacques of P.A.C.E. Travel, assembled the students to tell the story of the five Marines and a Navy hospital corpsman (Sergeant Michael Strank, Coporal Harlon H. Block, Pfc. Franklin R. Sousley, Pfc. Rene A. Gagnon, Pfc. Ira Hayes, and PhM. 2/c John H. Bradley, USN) who raised the flag that day. He also recommended the book Flags of our Fathers by James Bradley (son of the Navy corpsman) and Ron Powers, which inspired the recent Clint Eastwood film.
Gagnon, Hayes and Bradley survived the battle and returned home, but Strank, Block and Sousley gave their lives during the continued fighting on Iwo Jima.
And yet, all six live on, cast forever in bronze to honor the memory of all fallen Marines.
John Bradley’s face being sculpted by Felix DeWeldon
The likeness of John Bradley cast in bronze
The day had just begun, and we had barely scratched the historically inspiring surface of our nation’s capitol.
Next: Arlington National Cemetery and The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
For Part 5, click HERE