This date in history

On February 23, 1945 Joe Rosenthal snapped what is arguably the most famous photograph in history: The Marines raising the US flag over Mt Suribachi on Iwo Jima.

Contrary to popular belief, the flag rasing did NOT signify the end of the battle. Bloodly fighting raged on for another four weeks after that point. For many years the Marine's KIAs were misrepresented as 4,500. The actual number of Marine dead was closer to 8,000. The Japanese garrison of approximately 23,000 was almost entirely destroyed.

Today, the island has been returned to the Japanese government. Far from the beaten path it only hosts a Japanese naval detachment and a weather station. Japanese visitors make constant trips to the island collecting and burning the remains of their dead. Iwo has many monuments constructed by both Japan and the US, but only the Japanese monuments are maintained. The American monuments on Iwo are just like so many other WWII American monuments across the Pacific; they've been forgotten and allowed to fall into disrepair. Americans for the most part neither know or care what happened here some 65 years ago.

I have a friend who served in the Navy a few years ago, and he told of visiting Iwo Jima once. He and some friends made the climb up to the top of Suribachi to see the statue of the Marines raising the flag. According to his report: the spot reeks of urine.

Although it's not "historical", it certains means something to ME: My father died this morning in 1988. He was a US Navy CB who served on Saipan and Okinawa during WWII. Gone... but never ever forgotten.

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