By: Kai Chou, for Georgia Weekly Post
The Marine Corps War Memorial, or more colloquially known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, is located outside of Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington Ridge Park, Virginia just across the Potomac River from DC. This memorial honors all of the Marines who have perished serving the United States since 1775—before the nation was officially formed.
The memorial statue features the six men who raised the second American flag over Iwo Jima, based on the iconic photograph by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal. According to the National Park Service, the Marine Corps War Memorial receives over one million visitors per year.
The history of the memorial begins with the raising of the second American flag at Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945, signifying the conclusion of the American campaign in the Pacific during World War II.
Rosenthal’s photograph inspired sculptor Felix W. de Weldon, who eventually constructed a life-size model of the image. Rene A. Gagnon, Ira Hayes and John H. Bradley, the three survivors of the flag raising (the others were killed in battle at Iwo Jima), all posed for de Weldon so he could model their faces in clay.
The completed statue was then disassembled so it could be cast in bronze and was eventually brought back to DC on three trucks. The memorial was dedicated on November 10, 1954 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.