Joe Rosenthal's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph taken on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima is one of the best-known war images ever made. The Allies invaded the island, more than six hundred miles off the coast of Japan, on February 19, 1945, hoping to establish a staging area for bombers. Rosenthal, a photographer for the Associated Press, landed under gunfire three hours after the invasion began. The Marines fought their way to the top of Mount Suribachi on February 23 and raised a small flag. Later that same day, five Marines and a naval medicine corpsman raised this second, larger flag at the summit and were recorded by Rosenthal. Contrary to popular belief, the moment was not staged. In thirty-one days of brutal fighting, 6,821 Americans died, including three of the flag-raisers. Rosenthal inscribed this print to Wyoming Democratic Senator Joseph O'Mahoney.
I visited my father this past weekend and we had a lovely Sunday together. We attended a Latin Mass at a very old and distinguished landmark church (however, it was a Low Mass since they were going to have a processional following the Mass. Which was slightly disappointing. I was looking forward to hearing chant echoing from the gorgeous balcony above. My dad said next time we visit, we'll be able to hear it. Good ol' dad!)
Afterward, we visited my mother's grave and I placed my silk flowers in the vase. Near my mother is buried Cpl. Timothy Roos, a young Marine who was killed in action while serving in Iraq. He is buried in an outdoor mausoleum structure and his block was decorated with homemade cards, signs, and somehow had his Marine helmet hanging from it, filled with memorabilia such as his cell phone and other accessories. I happened to notice that a Purple Heart was hanging from the helmet.
As we were leaving, a man came by and ended up sitting on this gorgeous commemorative granite bench they had placed before Cpl. Roos's spot. I stopped to talk to the man. I am not sure, but I think this was his father. I asked if that was really a Purple Heart medal. He said it was, and that his buddies had placed it there for him. So I don't know if he was actually awarded the Purple Heart or if it was someone giving it to him, but the whole thing made me cry. I thanked this man for Cpl. Roos's ultimate sacrifice. The man also had been a Marine and I thanked him for his service.
We can't thank these type of people enough for what they do. Let us all remember them today.