Iwo Jima Statue & Iwo Jima Memorial

The flag raising photo caused an immediate sensation. Just two days after it was first seen in the US, Senators rose on the floor of the US Senate calling for a national monument modeled on the picture. The California State Legislature petitioned the Federal Government to build a grand monument. Thousands of ordinary American’s wrote the President appealing or a monument to immortalize the picture they loved. Felix DeWeldon, an ambitious sculptor, had a clay replica of the picture sculpted within 72 hours of seeing the picture.

President Truman with sculptor DeWeldon and photographer Rosenthal. Oval Office April, 1945. Hundreds of artisans would work 8 years to create the Iwo Jima Monument.

Sculptor DeWeldon with Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, John Bradley.The survivors modeled for DeWeldon.

Here on the right, sculptor DeWeldon works on the image of John Bradley.

Sculptor DeWeldon with Gagnon.The three who died on Iwo Jima, Harlon Block, Mike Strank and Franklin Sously, had their bodies recreated using pictures and measurements.

Here we see a three-truck convoy crossing the George Washington Bridge with the gigantic figures. Skilled artisans at the Bedi-Rassy Art Foundry, Brooklyn, NY took three years to cast them. They’re on their way down Interstate 95 headed to Arlington, Va. 1954

Erection of the Statue began September, 1954.DeWeldon first built the figures’ bone structures with a steel framework. He then put muscles and skin over this framework. The strain of the men’s muscles show dramatically through the clothes that were added later.

Rene Gagnon, Polly Gagnon, John Bradley, Elizabeth Bradley, Ira Hayes. Union Station Washington, D.C. Nov. 1954. (In town for the Dedication Ceremony.)Gagnon was an airlines clerk, Bradley was an entrepreneur and Hayes lived in a $50 hut on the Gila Indian Reservation.

The Memorial was dedicated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on November 10. 1954.Here Ike listens to his Vice President Richard Nixon.

The last photograph of the three survivors together, Bradley, Hayes and Gagnon.Within 10 weeks Ira Hayes would be found frozen, face down in an irrigation ditch. He died of exposure and alcohol at the age of 33, almost 10 years to the day he helped raise the flag on Iwo Jima.

Vice President Nixon’s “Photo Op” with Flag Raisers Bradley, Gagnon and Hayes.Hayes had less than 3 months to live.

Each figure is 32 feet high. The flagpole is 60 feet in length. It’s the world’s tallest bronze statue. It’s stands 78 feet high. A cloth flag flies from the pole.The cost of the statue was $850,000 (1954 Dollars.) No public funds were used. Private donations picked up the tab.

The inscription reads: “Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue.”

65 thoughts on “Iwo Jima Statue & Iwo Jima Memorial

  1. A.Y. Grant

    Visited the Iwo Jima statue this Memorial Day, 2014, for the second time (since 1972) and it still brings tears to my eyes. How shameful it is that our brave soldiers are so forgotten and mistreated by the VA scandal. If the USA congress personnel were required to walk in our troops’ boots, we might get this country quickly straightened out.

  2. Susan M. Gacek

    Thank you for such a wonderful web site honoring our Marines. My daughter and brother David are Marines. Both out for years. God bless all of them . I thank you all our military for their service. If there is a news letter please add me to the list. We will be celebrating our Marines living and dead from that war This weekend at our Memorial in Newington CT.
    With respect,

  3. JoAnn Nettleingham

    my grandfather was a marine in this battle..since he died last week im tring to put something together to honor him.i have seven children three grand kids and im hoping to educate them on the supreme loyalty of the marine corps and my grandfathers place in that.very open to sugestions please and thank you

  4. jr kelly

    wow its good to see the past that’s not been changed like that. I heard that in schools they are teaching kids that the boston tea party was a “terrorist act”. REALLY PEOPLE COME ON at least George Washington is still our 1st president. Any way I love this monument and it brings me joy to see the payoff of there sacrafices like that. God bless the marines and GOD BLESS AMERICA

  5. D'Lorah Hurton

    RIP Mr. Bud Gott, Iwo survivor (after fighting on the island for 30 days!) who we lost in 2012. Mr. Gott was a career educator and High School principal, beloved by generations of young people in his small town of Corning, California. Also a friend of the Young Marines!


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