Iwo Jima

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by moreluck, Mar 6, 2006.

  1. moreluck

    moreluck golden ticket member

    Don't worry T.S. I already checked with snopes.com and this is a true story :tt2:

    A Tale of Six Boys

    Each year I am hired to go to Washington, DC, with the eighth grade class from Clinton, WI. where I grew up, to videotape their trip. I greatly enjoy visiting our nation's capitol, and each year I take some special memories back with me. This fall's trip was especially memorable.

    On the last night of our trip, we stopped at the Iwo Jima memorial. This memorial is the largest bronze statue in the world and depicts one of the most famous photographs in history -- that of the six brave soldiers raising the American Flag at the top of a rocky hill on the island of Iwo Jima, Japan, during WW II.

    Over one hundred students and chaperones piled off the buses and headed towards the memorial. I noticed a solitary figure at the base of the statue, and as I got closer he asked, "Where are you guys from?"

    I told him that we were from Wisconsin. "Hey, I'm a cheese head, too! Come gather around, Cheese heads, and I will tell you a story."

    (James Bradley just happened to be in Washington, DC, to speak at the memorial the following day. He was there that night to say good night to his dad, who has since passed away. He was just about to leave when he saw the buses pull up. I videotaped him as he spoke to us, and received his permission to share what he said from my videotape. It is one thing to tour the incredible monuments filled with history in Washington, D.C., but it is quite another to get the kind of insight we received that night.)

    When all had gathered around, he reverently began to speak. (Here are his words that night.)

    "My name is James Bradley and I'm from Antigo, Wisconsin. My dad is on that statue, and I just wrote a book called "Flags of Our Fathers" which is #5 on the New York Times Best Seller list right now. It is the story of the six boys you see behind me.

    "Six boys raised the flag. The first guy putting the pole in the ground is Harlon Block. Harlon was an all-state football player. He enlisted in the Marine Corps with all the senior members of his football team. They were off to play another type of game. A game called "War." But it didn't turn out to be a game.

    Harlon, at the age of 21, died with his intestines in his hands. I don't say that to gross you out, I say that because there are generals who stand in front of this statue and talk about the glory of war. You guys need to know that most of the boys in Iwo Jima were 17, 18, and 19 years old.

    (He pointed to the statue) "You see this next guy? That's Rene Gagnon from New Hampshire. If you took Rene's helmet off at the moment this photo was taken and looked in the webbing of that helmet, you would find a photograph... a photograph of his girlfriend. Rene put that in there for protection because he was scared. He was 18 years old. Boys won the battle of Iwo Jima. Boys. Not old men.

    "The next guy here, the third guy in this tableau, was Sergeant Mike Strank. Mike is my hero. He was the hero of all these guys. They called him the "old man" because he was so old. He was already 24. When Mike would motivate his boys in training camp, he didn't say, 'Let's go kill some Japanese' or 'Let's die for our country.' He knew he was talking to little boys. Instead he would say, 'You do what I say, and I'll get you home to your mothers.'

    "The last guy on this side of the statue is Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian from Arizona. Ira Hayes walked off Iwo Jima. He went into the White House with my dad. President Truman told him, 'You're a hero.' He told reporters, 'How can I feel like a hero when 250 of my buddies hit the island with me and only 27 of us walked off alive?' So you take your class at school, 250 of you spending a year together having fun, doing everything together. Then all 250 of you hit the beach, but only 27 of your classmates walk off alive. That was Ira Hayes. He had images of horror in his mind. Ira Hayes died dead drunk, face down at the age of 32 .. ten years after this picture was taken.

    "The next guy, going around the statue, is Franklin Sousley from Hilltop, Kentucky. A fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. His best friend, who is now 70, told me, 'Yeah, you know, we took two cows up on the porch of the Hilltop General Store. Then we strung wire across the stairs so the cows couldn't get down. Then we fed them Epsom salts. Those cows crapped all night. Yes, he was a fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. Franklin died on Iwo Jima at the age of 19. When the telegram came to tell his mother that he was dead, it went to the Hilltop General Store. A barefoot boy ran that telegram up to his mother's farm. The neighbors could hear her scream all night and into the morning. The neighbors lived a quarter of a mile away.

    "The next guy, as we continue to go around the statue, is my dad, John Bradley from Antigo, Wisconsin, where I was raised. My dad lived until 1994, but he would never give interviews. When Walter Cronkite's producers, or the New York Times would call, we were trained as little kids to say, 'No, I'm sorry, sir, my dad's not here. He is in Canada fishing. No, there is no phone there, sir. No, we don't know when he is coming back.' My dad never fished or even went to Canada. Usually, he was sitting there right at the table eating his Campbell's soup. But we had to tell the press that he was out fishing. He didn't want to talk to the press.

    "You see, my dad didn't see himself as a hero. Everyone thinks these guys are heroes, 'cause they are in a photo and on a monument. My dad knew better. He was a medic. John Bradley from Wisconsin was a caregiver. In Iwo Jima he probably held over 200 boys as they died. And when boys died in Iwo Jima, they writhed and screamed in pain.

    "When I was a little boy, my third grade teacher told me that my dad was a hero. When I went home and told my dad that, he looked at me and said, 'I want you always to remember that the heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who did not come back. Did NOT come back.'?

    "So that's the story about six nice young boys. Three died on Iwo Jima, and three came back as national heroes. Overall, 7,000 boys died on Iwo Jima in the worst battle in the history of the Marine Corps. My voice is giving out, so I will end here. Thank you for your time."

    Suddenly, the monument wasn't just a big old piece of metal with a flag sticking out of the top. It came to life before our eyes with the heartfelt words of a son who did indeed have a father who was a hero. Maybe not a hero for the reasons most people would believe, but a hero nonetheless.

    We need to remember that God created this vast and glorious world for us to live in, freely, but also at great sacrifice. Let us never forget from the Revolutionary War to the current War on Terrorismand all the wars in-between that sacrifice was made for our freedom. Remember to pray praises for this great country of ours and also pray for those still in murderous unrest around the world. STOP and thank God for being alive and being free at someone else's sacrifice.

    God Bless You and God Bless America.

    REMINDER: Everyday that you can wake up free, it's going to be a great day.
  2. scratch

    scratch Least Best Moderator Staff Member

    Good story Moreluck,

    I have an uncle, his name is Billy Willingham, he was one of those young Marines on Iwo Jima and a couple of the other island invasions. I have another uncle who aimed a bomb site out of a B-29 bomber over Japan. My own father carried a machine gun across Italy and used it against the Nazi army. All these men in my lives went straight out of High School as teenagers to serve their country. They never would talk about what they went through, the horrors they saw, only about where they went. They were truly "The Greatest Generation" .
  3. Congratulations, at least I've taught you to do due diligence. Check out one of our liberal sites for a bit more insight, and an afterword from the original author:

    PS---My dad was at Iwo Jima, among many other battles in WWII in the Pacific theater. I thank him often for the sacrifices he made for our freedom.

    PPS---He despises the current administration. He considers them to be traitors to what he fought for.
  4. tieguy

    tieguy Banned

    then perhaps you could have appreciated the story for what it was and left it alone instead of turning it into another political debate opportunity.
  5. Jones

    Jones fILE A GRIEVE! Staff Member

    It really is a profound and compelling story, and it's a shame that it's been politicized. I've run the Marine Corps marathon a few times and I always find it a bit humbling to finish up in the shadow of the Iwo Jima Memorial.

    I don't blame Tyrone for bringing politics into it, though, considering that it's the people who are currently circulating this story who added the paragraph at the end about praising god and supporting the war on the terror. I'm not blaming Moreluck for that either, she just reprinted it, and the person/people who made the change were careful to make it look as if it were part of the original text.

    In it's original form it's a lesson about the horrors of war, aptly summed up in the following passage:
    Harlon, at the age of 21, died with his intestines in his hands. I don't say that to gross you out, I say that because there are generals who stand in front of this statue and talk about the glory of war.

    Adding that paragraph at the end is an attempt to turn it into a rallying cry in support of Christianity and the war in Iraq, which is certainly not what James Bradley intended when he gave that speech. Like I said, it's shame that someone felt it necessary to politicize it.
  6. tieguy

    tieguy Banned

    Jonesy I reread it and I still think the intent was to show appreciation for the sacrifice of the military without necessarily endorsing the conflict.
  7. afups

    afups New Member

    I spent a month on Iwo Jima in the 60s. My scheduling allowed me time to roam almost the entire island, take photos, etc. I got up early and watched the sun come up out of the ocean and walked the black sands still stained red and often saw protruding bones and artifacts. I left the island a very different person than when I arrived.

    I later went to Gettysburg for a day and every time I looked at a battlefield, Iwo Jima, the black pearl of the Pacific came back to my mind.

    I will never forget the men of Iwo Jima and their conquest which speeded up the end of World War II.
  8. sendagain

    sendagain Member

    Perhaps a naval blockade would have been less costly. Teaching people that war is hell is appropriate, but to give them the thought that no war is worth fighting, is to make them the future slave of despots.
  9. Jones

    Jones fILE A GRIEVE! Staff Member

    The problem with blockades is that while they sound good on paper, they rarely work in practice. Off the top of my head I can't think of any major conflicts that were won by using a blockade. In addition, you need to have to have time on your side, which we really didn't. In hindsight (always 20/20) there were some costly battles in the Pacific theatre that we probably didn't have to fight, like Peleliu, but I'e never heard that argument made about Iwo Jima.
  10. afups

    afups New Member

    Blockades take time...lots of time. Had we not ended the war the way we did, I believe Russia would have been moving their own troops into northern Japan, perhaps into the coastal areas of the Sea of Japan, and other places in a very BIG way.
  11. scratch

    scratch Least Best Moderator Staff Member


    If Russia had invaded Japan before we finished them off, maybe everybody would be driving Yugos instead of Hondas!