WASHINGTON D.C. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- It was an iconic moment of a battle that will forever be remembered as a turning point in World War II, and in this Nevada Proud segment, News 4 visited the Iwo Jima Memorial with some of the Marines who were there when the flag was raised.
"It really means a lot to us today," says Jack Brosnan, who fought at Iwo Jima. "It's a great statue; it really is. A lot of effort went into that. A lot of lives went into that."
The Marine Corps War Memorial, also called the Iwo Jima Memorial, is based on the iconic photo of the raising of the flag on the top of Mount Suribachi taken by Joe Rosenthal. Originally dedicated by President Eisenhower in 1954, the memorial honors every Marine who has died fighting for the United States since 1775.
"The Marines on Iwo Jima love this thing," Brosnan says. "Fantastic statue. We didn't think much of it at the time because we were all about two or three football fields away from the thing, and most of us said 'the flag's too small'."
The statue itself is actually a shot of the second flag raising on Iwo Jima, with a much larger flag than the first effort. While the flag was raised on Mount Suribachi just four days into the battle, Iwo Jima didn't fall until over a month later. The 36 day assault resulted in more than 26,000 American casualties. Today, while many take inspiration from the statue, those were there feel a little differently.
"I really don't feel that it's a celebration; there's too many people that we know who died to really be happy about it," Brosnan says. "But if nobody died, there wouldn't have been an end to the war, so we did what we had to do."
Admiral Chester Nimitz's words don the memorial, and they may describe the Marines that were there the best: "Uncommon valor was a common virtue."