2020 is the 75th anniversary of many important World War II related events. For example, the iconic flag raising at Iwo Jima took place on February 23, 1945.
The Marine Corps Memorial, located in Arlington, VA, depicts the men raising the flag at Iwo Jima.
If you have an opportunity you should visit the Marine Corps War Memorial (aka the Iwo Jima Memorial) for the 75th anniversary on Sunday, February 23.
We’ll use this posting to communicate any events related to the 75th anniversary - either programs developed by Washington, DC History & Culture, a non-profit community organization, or by others.
For now this is a save-the-date type announcement and we’ll provide additional information in the future.
Marine Corps War Memorial
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The United States Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial) is a national memorial located in Arlington County, Virginia, in the United States. Dedicated in 1954, it is located in Arlington Ridge Park with George Washington Memorial Parkway, near the Ord-Weitzel Gate to Arlington National Cemetery and the Netherlands Carillon. The war memorial is dedicated to all U.S. Marine Corps personnel who died in the defense of the United States since 1775.
The memorial was inspired by the iconic 1945 photograph of six Marines raising a U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II taken by Associated Press combat photographer Joe Rosenthal. Upon first seeing the photograph, sculptor Felix de Weldon created a maquette for a sculpture based on the photo in a single weekend at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland, where he was serving in the Navy. He and architect Horace W. Peaslee designed the memorial. Their proposal was presented to Congress, but funding was not possible during the war. In 1947, a federal foundation was established to raise funds for the memorial.
The centerpiece of the memorial is a colossal sculpture group depicting the six Marines who raised the second (and larger) replacement U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945. The subjects of Rosenthal's photograph, from right to left, are as follows:
Position 1: Corporal Harlon H. Block
Position 2: Corporal Harold P. Keller
Position 3: Private First Class Franklin R. Sousley
Position 4: Sergeant Michael Strank
Position 5: Private First Class Harold H. Schultz
Position 6: Private First Class Ira H. Hayes
The flag-raising also was recorded by Marine Sergeant Bill Genaust, a combat motion picture cameraman, who filmed the event in color while standing beside Rosenthal. Genaust's footage established that the second flag raising was not staged. He was killed by the Japanese after entering a cave on Iwo Jima during the battle. Genaust's remains have never been found.
The commission for the memorial was awarded in 1951. De Weldon spent three years creating a full-sized master model in plaster, with figures 32 feet (9.8 m) tall. This was disassembled like a giant puzzle, and each piece was separately cast in bronze. Peaslee's base for the memorial is made of black diabase granite from a quarry in Lönsboda, a small town in the southernmost province of Sweden. It features a number of inscriptions. Groundbreaking was held on February 19, 1954. Construction of the memorial began in September. The bronze pieces of the sculpture were assembled to Brooklyn, New York for casting in bronze. This took about 3 months to complete. After that, they were reassembled into a dozen pieces and were shipped back to Arlington, Virginia in a 3 truck convoy, to which was added a 60 feet (18 m) flagpole. The total cost of the memorial was $850,000, including the development of the site. It was paid for with donations from U.S. Marines, former Marines, Marine Corps Reservists, friends of the Marine Corps, and members of the Naval Service; no public funds were used.
The memorial was dedicated on November 10, 1954, the 179th anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps. The Presiding officials included President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Vice President Richard Nixon, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Anderson (Honorary Chairman of the Day), Assistant Secretary of the Interior Fred G. Aandahl, and sculptor Felix de Weldon. Speeches were given by Richard Nixon, Robert Anderson who dedicated the memorial, Felix de Weldon, and General Lemuel Shepherd, 20th Commandant of the Marine Corps who presented the memorial to the American people.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued a proclamation on June 12 that a Flag of the United States should fly over the memorial 24 hours a day, one of the few official sites where this is required. Despite being mounted on the staff of the sculpture, which depicts an event that occurred when the U.S. flag had 48 stars, the flag used is a modern one (specifically, one featuring the number and arrangement of stars prescribed as of when the flag is being flown) in keeping with both the text of the proclamation and the memorial's dedication to all Marines who died in defense of the United States regardless of when their deaths occurred.
The memorial is located on a high ridge, overlooking the national capital. The Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. uses the memorial as the centerpiece of its weekly Sunset Parade, featuring the Drum and Bugle Corps and the Silent Drill Platoon.
Memorial marker and inscriptions
The memorial consists of front and rear inscriptions, and inscribed in gold letters around the polished black granite upper base of the memorial is the date and location of every United States Marine Corps major action up to the present time.
Front (west side): "Uncommon Valor Was A Common Virtue" – "Semper Fidelis"
Rear (east side): "In Honor And Memory Of The Men Of The United States Marine Corps Who Have Given Their Lives To Their Country Since 10 November 1775"
Felix de Weldon's and Joe Rosenthal's names are also inscribed on the bottom left and bottom right base of the front side of the memorial. Rosenthal's name was added in 1982.
"Dedicated To The Marine Dead Of All Wars, And Their Comrades Of Other Services Who Fell Fighting Beside Them.
Created By Felix De Weldon, And Inspired By The Immortal Photograph Taken By Joseph J. Rosenthal On February 23, 1945, Atop Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands.
Erected By The Marine Corps War Memorial Foundation, With Funds Provided By Marines And Their Friends, And With The Cooperation And Support Of Many Public Officials.
Dedicated, November 10, 1954"
On April 29, 2015, philanthropist David Rubenstein pledged over five million dollars to refurbish the memorial in honor of his father, a Marine veteran from World War II who died in 2013, "and all Marines who have died in service to the United States." The $5.37 million donation, made through the National Park Foundation, supported cleaning and waxing the statue, polishing the black granite panels, regilding inscriptions, relandscaping, and making repairs to the pavement, lighting and flagpole. While the Park Service performs regular routine maintenance, this was the first comprehensive refurbishment of the memorial since its dedication in 1954. The work was done in three phases with completion in 2018.
This program is presented by the non-profit community organization Washington, DC History & Culture:
“bringing people together to experience the history and culture of Washington, DC.”
For more entertaining and educational programs visit us at:
We look forward to seeing you - thanks!
Washington, DC History & Culture
202-821-6325 (text only)