11/18/2016 Iwo Jima Memorial, Harlingen, TX
The previous day I took two couples to Progresso, Mexico. Neither had been before and we had a great time. And other than buying some antibiotic to replace the old I have, I actually spent no money. And they didn’t let me pay for my breakfast OR lunch. I fought that, but didn’t win. It was a good day. During the ride I mentioned that I intended to visit the Iwo Jima Memorial the next day. None of them knew about it. Later, one of the gentlemen knocked on my door and asked if he could come along. Of course!
A little history: The man, the sculptor, Dr. Felix W. de Weldon, was on duty with the US Navy when the Pulitzer Prize winning photographed was first released. Within 48 hours he constructed a scale model which became the symbol for the 7th and final war bond drive. After the war, he felt the event should be depicted on a massive scale in our nation’s capital. Over a 9 1/2 year period he labored to prepare a working model from molding plaster. Once completed in plaster it was disassembled and trucked to Brooklyn, NY for casting in bronze. This process took 3 years and the bronze parts were then trucked to DC for erection at Arlington National Cemetery. The bronze memorial was officially dedicated by President Eisenhower on November 10, 1954, the 179th anniversary of the US Marine Corps.
The working model was moved to Weldon’s summer home in Newport, RI for storage. In October 1981 Dr. de Weldon gave the plaster working model to the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, TX. Factors involved in this decision include the fairly constant temperature and humidity which are ideal for the preservation of the plaster figures, the street facing the memorial was named Iwo Jima Boulevard by the Academy’s founders in 1965, and the Academy is the only place outside of Washington, DC where proper honors can be rendered with battalion-size dress blue parades. Also, a chapel faces the east side of the memorial, the Marine placing the flag pole in the ground was a local, Corporal Harlon H Block of Weslaco, and the famous quote on the base of the memorial was spoken by Admiral Chester Nimitz of Fredericksburg, TX.
Pictures and then more info follow:
I wish they would place signs on all the different pieces of equipment. I like that they did on the one Iraqi one. These were all outside the museum. Inside we watched a movie (about 30 or so minutes long) and walked through much more information. We also spoke with a veteran who gave us much more information.
I hope you can read this – it was one of several times that morning I was in tears.
Following are some statistics regarding the Memorial:
The figures are 32 feet high shown erecting a 78 foot steel flagpole holding a cloth flag which flies 24 hours a day. The figures all occupy the same positions as in the historic photo. Hayes (the TX man) is the fire farthest from the flagstaff. The canteen would hold 32 quarts of water.
The entire cost of developing the memorial site was donated by U.S. Marines, former Marines, Marine Corps Reservists, friends of the Marine Corps, members of the Naval Service, Academy Trustees, Alumni, Cadets and friends of the Academy. No public funds were used on the project.
The base is another place I cried. It’s made of black Brazilian granite and burnished in gold on the granite are the names and dates of every principal Marine Corps engagement since the founding of the Corps, as well as the inscription “In honor and in memory of the men of the United States Marine Corps who have given their lives for their country since November 10, 1775.” Also inscribed on the base is the tribute of Fleet Admiral Chest W. Nimitz to the fighting men on Iwo Jima: “Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue”.
Finally, the men depicted on the Monument:
1. PFC Ira H. Hayes died in 1955 in his birthplace, the Sacatone Reservation, Arizona.
2. PFC Franklin R. Sousley of Flemingsburg, Kentucky was killed in action at Iwo Jima 3/21/1945.
3. SGT Michael Strank of Johnstown, Pennsylvania was killed in action at Iwo Jima 3/1/1945.
4. PM2/C John H. Bradley died 1/10/1994 in his hometown of Antigo, Wisconsin.
5. PFC Rene A. Gagnon, Concord, New Hampshire, died in 1979 in Manchester, New Hampshire.
6. CPL Harlon H. Block, born in Weslaco, Texas, was killed in action at Iwo Jima 3/1/1945.
I’ve seen the original in Washington, D.C. and now this one here. It’s mind numbing for me.