So what does one of our nation’s most famous statues have to do with Texas? This is the other Iwo Jima Memorial, located at the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, Texas.
When war correspondent Joe Rosenthal’s famous photograph of U.S. Marines raising the American flag atop Mount Suribachi during the bloody battle of Iwo Jima became public, U.S. Navy physician Doctor Felix W. de Weldon was so moved that he constructed a scale model based upon the photograph within 48 hours.
When the war ended, Dr. de Weldon spent almost ten years carefully creating a working model from molding plaster. Once the sculpture was completed in plaster, it was carefully disassembled and transported to Brooklyn, New York for casting in bronze. The casting process took three years, and then the bronze parts were trucked to Washington, D.C, and assembled at Arlington National Cemetery. The Iwo Jima Memorial was officially dedicated on November 10, 1954, the 179th Anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps. In October, 1981 Dr. de Weldon gave the original working model of the statue to the Marine Military Academy.
The Marine Military Academy is an independent, nonprofit military college preparatory boarding school for boys in grades 8 through 12. The campus is part of the former Harlingen Army Aerial Gunnery School. Graduates of the Academy have received appointments to the U.S. Naval Academy, The U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
The Iwo Jima Memorial is located on the Academy’s Parade Ground, There is a small museum near the Memorial where visitors can watch a 30 minute video about the Battle of Iwo Jima and the Iwo Jima Memorial.
Yesterday, Terry and I drove the 45 miles from Mission West RV Resort to Harlingen to drop off bundles of sample copies of the Gypsy Journal at RV parks in that area, and stopped at the Marine Military Academy to visit the Iwo Jima memorial.
We have seen the original statue at Arlington, and this one is just as inspiring. I was amazed at the minute detail in the sculpture. Only three of the Marines who helped raise the flag survived the Battle of Iwo Jima, and they posed for Dr. de Weldon when he created the memorial. He relied on photographs of the men who died to caste their figures.
After paying our respects at the Memorial, we toured the museum, which has a display of World War II small arms and a gift shop with a good collection of books on World War II. We came away from the Memorial and museum with another reminder that freedom is never free.
Thought For The Day – A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.