Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Commemorating Iwo Jima and Ira H. Hayes

(Originally posted by me on on February 22nd, 2011; republishing here since Rantlust is no longer active.  Original comments included below; any non-original text is in green.)

One of the most iconic images of World War II is the photograph of five Marines and one Sailor raising the U.S. flag on Mt. Suribachi, on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima, on February 23rd, 1945. One of the Marines was Private First Class Ira H. Hayes, a Pima Native American from Sacaton, AZ, a town about 30 miles southeast of Phoenix on the Gila River Reservation. The photo, taken by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal while the battle for the island still raged, reinvigorated waning public support for the war in the U.S. and brought considerable fame to Ira Hayes and the other two flag-raisers who survived the Battle of Iwo Jima. It also served as the basis for the Marine Corp War Memorial outside Arlington National Cemetery, where Ira Hayes, after being promoted to Corporal but leading a troubled post-war life, was buried.

(photo credit:

Ira Hayes was never comfortable with his fame and invitations to the White House, feeling guilt over surviving the war when so many of his comrades didn’t (only five of his platoon of 45 survived, and three of