The United States Marine Corps War Memorial, better known as the Iwo Jima Memorial depicts one of the most historic battles of World War II, the battle of Iwo Jima. The memorial is dedicated to all marines who have given their lives in battle.
The Battle of Iwo Jima
On February 19, 1945, about 70,000 marines invaded the small Pacific Island of Iwo Jima which was under control of the Japanese army. The island was a strategic objective due to its airfield, which was used for kamikaze attacks.
By capturing the island, the Allied Forces would not only prevent attacks from the island, but it would also give them a base from where the Japanese mainland could be reached by B-29 Superfortresses.
One of the first objectives in the attack was capturing Mount Suribachi, the highest point on the island. On February 23, the mountain was almost secured. At around 10:30 am, a small American flag was raised atop the mountain. Later that day, a much larger flag was raised by five Marines and a Navy corpsman.
The raising was witnessed by news photographer Joe Rosenthal, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning picture of the flag raising would become a symbol of the war in the Pacific. It was soon used by the American government to sell war bonds and to promote the war effort.
The battle of Iwo Jima was one of the bloodiest in the war, with more than 6,800 American and 23,000 Japanese casualties. Of the six soldiers shown on Rosenthal’s picture, only three survived the war. The other three were killed during further battle at Iwo Jima.
The picture inspired sculptor Felix de Weldon, who created a life-size model of the photograph. Paid for by donations, it was later cast in bronze and in September 1954 it was brought to Washington, D.C as part of a memorial designed by Horace Peaslee.
At the 179th anniversary of the US Marine Corps on November 10, 1954, the memorial was dedicated by president Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The 32 ft (10 m) tall figures raising a 60 ft / 18 m high flagpole are placed on a 10 ft / 3 m high base. All the major Marine Corps engagements since its founding in 1775 are inscribed on the base.
The Iwo Jima Memorial is located near Arlington cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.