display | more...
The Marine Corps War Memorial, or as most people remember it, those guys raising the flag on the mountain, shows what may be the most famous momment of the Marine Corps. Pictured are the 6 figures, Michael Strank, Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, John Bradley and Harlon Block, raising the flag over Mt. Suribachi. When the picture appeared in the press, these gentlemen became famous and American heroes. Senators rose up in Congress demanding a national monument based off that picture. Thousands of American citizens wrote the President demanding something better be done.

Felix DeWeldon, a sculptor who was then on duty with the US Navy created a clay model of the picture within 74 hours of seeing the picture. He went on to create a life size model. The three still living soldiers, Gagnon, Hayes, and Bradley, posed for measurements while the deceased where reconstructed from pictures and other information.

After a plaster model was created, it was shipped over to Brooklyn, the Bedi-Rassy Art Foundry, where it was cast in bronze. This process took over three years and once it was finished, was shipped to Washington D.C. to be put together. The bronzed pieces where shipped in a three truck convoy.

Erection of the statue began September of 1954. The figures have a steel framework that supports the bronzed pieces that were welded on. After it was complete the entire monument was covered in preservative.

The memorial was dedicated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on November 10, 1954 the 179th annivesary of the Marine Corps. The surviving flag-raisers atteneded the ceremony. This is last time that the three were seen together, as Hayes died 10 weeks later, or 10 years after the flag-raising took place.

Each figure represented is 32 feet high and the flagpole is 60 feet in length. This monument is the world's tallest bronze statue, at 78 feet high. A cloth flag flies 24 hours a day ever since a Presidential proclamation in 1961. The M-1 rifle and the carbine carried by two of the figures are 16 feet long and 12 feet long. The canteen that is shown would hold over 32 quarts of water, if filled.

The base of the memorial is made of Sweedish granite and burnished in gold are the names of every major Corps battle along with the inscription; "In honor and in memory of the men of the United States Marine Corps who have given their lives to their country since November 10, 1775." Also there is a quote stated by Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz to those who were on Iwo Jima; "Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue."

Information for this node was taken from www.iwojima.com and also the National Park Service web page, www.nps.gov