Marine Corps

May 24, 2012

The history of the Marine Corps War Memorial

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Compiled by Desert Warrior Staff
Courtesy photo

The Marine Corps War Memorial (also called the Iwo Jima Memorial) is a military memorial statue outside the walls of the Arlington National Cemetery and next to the Netherlands Carillon, in Arlington, Virginia, in the United States. The memorial is dedicated to all personnel of the United States Marine Corps who have died in the defense of their country since 1775. The design of the massive sculpture by Felix de Weldon was based on the iconic photo Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, taken during the Battle of Iwo Jima by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal.

The memorial features the Marines and Sailor who raised the second flag over Iwo Jima: Sgt Michael Strank, Cpl Harlon Block, PFC Franklin Sousley, PFC Rene Gagnon, PFC Ira Hayes, PM2 John Bradley.

In 1951, work commenced on creating a cast bronze memorial based on the photo, with the figures 32 feet (9.8 m) tall and the flagpole 60 feet (18 m) long. The granite base of the memorial bears two inscriptions:

“In honor and memory of the men of the United States Marine Corps who have given their lives to their country since 10 November 1775”

“Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue.” This is a tribute by Admiral Chester Nimitz to the fighting men on Iwo Jima.

The location and date of every major Marine Corps engagement up to the present are inscribed around the base of the memorial. The base is made entirely in the deep black diabase of Lönsboda, a small town and a quarry in the southernmost province of Sweden.

The memorial was officially dedicated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on November 10, 1954, the 179th anniversary of the Marine Corps. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued a proclamation that a Flag of the United States should fly from the memorial 24 hours a day, one of the few official sites where this is required.

The Marines of Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. use the memorial as a centerpiece of the weekly Sunset Parade featuring the Drum and Bugle Corps and by the Silent Drill Platoon.




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