William S. Killam
January 29, 2013
Flag Raising at Mount Suribachi
To finally reach the top was a feat unlike any they had imagined. It took four days of intense fighting to reach the top of Mount Suribachi. Five United States Marines and one Navy corpsman stood atop Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945 and raised an American flag signifying that they had taken the top of the volcanic mountain during the battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. The picture, taken by Joe Rosenthal, became one of the most recognizable photos of the war.
This photo instills a sense of patriotism in any American that sees it. Seeing the flag at the top of the mountain was a great motivator for the troops still landing at the beach below. The United States had taken heavy casualties trying to get to the top of the mountain. The Japanese were dug in to pill boxes, a hidden fighting position through which the Japanese would attack the Americans with machine guns, which were connected via tunnels, to other defensive fighting positions. As soon as the Americans had cleared one pill box and were moving on, more Japanese troops would occupy the previously cleared pill boxes and start killing more of the American troops.
The order to take the island of Iwo Jima was probably a daunting one to all the American fighting men. Most of the men had never been in a real battle. Arriving and seeing that many men were wounded or killed trying to accomplish the mission would cause any man to rethink his position in the military. Yet, countless Marines and naval personnel were given the task to do just that. This island was of great strategic importance in the war against Japan. It served as an observation outpost for the Japanese to warn of incoming bombers to the mainland. For the Americans, it would become a way point for damaged bombers to land and repair, as well as a launching point for American fighters.
Of the men depicted in the flag raising, only three lived to tell the tale after taking the island. Mount Suribachi was located at the south end of the island, and the Japanese had many fortified positions stretching from the south to the north. It took four days to reach the top of Mount Suribachi, but it took thirty-one days to declare the entire island as secured. This photo is a small reminder of the courage and fortitude it took to remain optimistic in a time of despair.
The flag itself stands for all that we, as Americans, hold dear to our lives. The freedoms that we enjoy as a people are not held by all. Unfortunately, sometimes we, the Americans, take these freedoms for granted and do not appreciate the sacrifices made to afford us these rights. It should be a requirement of our youth to spend some time in the military to understand what keeps us free. However, that would not be in accordance with the freedom to choose what we want to do with our lives.
Our flag, as a symbol of who we are, should be treated with the utmost respect. It should be flown proudly on days of celebration. It should be treated as if it were a person. After all, many men and women have given the ultimate sacrifice to protect…