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Old 07-20-2015, 10:25 AM   #1
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Location: Columbus, MS
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The statue

Each year I am hired to go to Washington , DC , with the eighth grade
> class from Clinton , WI where I grew up,
> to videotape their trip. I greatly enjoy
> visiting our Nation's Capital, and each year I
> take some special memories back with me.

This fall's trip was especially memorable.
>On the last night of our trip,
> we stopped at the Iwo Jima Memorial.
> This memorial is the largest bronze statue in
> the world and depicts one of the most
> famous photographs in history -- that of the six brave
> soldiers raising the American Flag at the top
> of a rocky hill on the island of Iwo Jima ,
> Japan , during WW II.
> Over one hundred students and chaperones piled off the buses
> and headed towards the memorial. I
> noticed a solitary figure at the base of the
> statue, and as I got closer he asked,
> 'Where are you guys from?

> I told him that we were from Wisconsin . 'Hey,
> I'm a cheese head, too! Come gather around,
> Cheese heads, and I will tell you a
> story.'
> (It was James Bradley who just happened to be in Washington ,
> DC , to speak at the memorial the following day.
> He was there that night to say good night to
> his dad, who had passed away. He was just
> about to leave when he saw the buses pull
> up. I videotaped him as he spoke to
> us, and received his permission to share what
> he said from my videotape.

>It is one thing to tour the incredible monuments
> filled with history in Washington , DC ,
> but it is quite another to get the kind of
> insight we received that night.)
> When all had gathered around, he reverently began to speak.
> (Here are his words that night.)

> 'My name
> is James Bradley and I'm from Antigo, Wisconsin .
> My dad is on that statue, and I wrote a book
> called 'Flags of Our Fathers'. It is the
> story of the six boys you see behind
> me.
> 'Six boys raised the
> flag. The first guy putting the pole in
> the ground is Harlon Block. Harlon
> was an all-state football player. He
> enlisted in the Marine Corps with all the senior
> members of his football team. They
> were off to play another type of game. A
> game called 'War.' But it didn't
> turn out to be a game. Harlon,
> at the age of 21, died with his intestines in
> his hands. I don't say that to
> gross you out, I say that because there are people
> who stand in front of this statue and talk about
> the glory of war. You guys
> need to know that most of the boys in Iwo Jima were
> 17, 18, and 19 years old - and it was so hard that the
> ones who did make it home never even would
> talk to their families about it.
> (He
> pointed to the statue) 'You see this next
> guy? That's Rene Gagnon from New
> Hampshire . If you took Rene's helmet off at the
> moment this photo was taken and looked in
> the webbing of that helmet, you would find a
> photograph...a photograph of his girlfriend Rene put
> that in there for protection because he
> was scared. He was 18 years
> old. It was just boys who won the
> battle of Iwo Jima . Boys. Not
> old men.
> 'The next guy here, the
> third guy in this tableau, was Sergeant Mike
> Strank. Mike is my hero.
> He was the hero of all these guys. They
> called him the 'old man' because he was
> so old. He was already
> 24. When Mike would motivate his boys in
> training camp, he didn't say, 'Let's
> go kill some Japanese' or 'Let's die
> for our country' He knew he was talking to
> little boys. Instead he would say,
> 'You do what I say, and I'll get you home to
> your mothers.'
> 'The last guy on this side
> of the statue is Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian from
> Arizona . Ira Hayes was one of them
> who lived to walk off Iwo Jima . He
> went into the White House with my
> dad. President Truman told him,
> 'You're a hero'. He
> told reporters, 'How can I feel
> like a hero when 250 of my buddies hit the island with
> me and only 27 of us walked off
> alive?'
> So
> you take your class at school, 250 of you spending a
> year together having fun, doing everything
> together. Then all 250 of you hit the
> beach, but only 27 of your classmates walk
> off alive. That was Ira Hayes. He
> had images of horror in his mind.
> Ira Hayes carried the pain home with him and
> eventually died dead drunk, face down, drowned
> in a very shallow puddle, at the age of 32 (ten
> years after this picture was
> taken).
> 'The next guy, going
> around the statue, is Franklin Sousley from Hilltop,
> Kentucky . A fun-lovin' hillbilly
> boy. His best friend, who is now 70, told
> me, 'Yeah, you know, we took two cows up on the
> porch of the Hilltop General
> Store. Then we strung wire across the stairs
> so the cows couldn't get
> down. Then we fed them Epsom
> salts. Those cows crapped all night. ' Yes,
> he was a fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. Franklin
> died on Iwo Jima at the age of 19.
> When the telegram came to tell his mother
> that he was dead, it went to the Hilltop General
> Store. A barefoot boy ran that
> telegram up to his mother's
> farm. The neighbors could hear her scream
> all night and into the morning.
> Those neighbors lived a quarter of a mile
> away.
> 'The next guy, as we
> continue to go around the statue, is my dad, John
> Bradley, from Antigo, Wisconsin , where I was
> raised. My dad lived until 1994,
> but he would never give interviews.
> When Walter Cronkite's producers or the New
> York Times would call, we were trained as little
> kids to say 'No, I'm sorry, sir, my
> dad's not here. He is in Canada
> fishing. No, there is no phone
> there, sir. No, we
> don't know when he is coming
> back.' My dad never fished or
> even went to Canada . Usually, he
> was sitting there right at the table eating his
> Campbell 's soup. But we
> had to tell the press that he was out
> fishing. He didn't want to talk to
> the press.
> 'You see, like Ira
> Hayes, my dad didn't see himself as a
> hero. Everyone thinks these guys are
> heroes, 'cause they are in a photo and on a
> monument. My dad knew
> better. He was a medic.
> John Bradley from Wisconsin was a combat
> caregiver. On Iwo Jima he probably held
> over 200 boys as they died. And when
> boys died on Iwo Jima , they writhed and
> screamed, without any medication or help
> with the pain.
> 'When I was a little
> boy, my third grade teacher told me that my dad was
> a hero. When I went home and told my
> dad that, he looked at me and said, 'I want you
> always to remember that the heroes of Iwo Jima
> are the guys who did not come
> back. Did NOT come
> back.'
> 'So that's the
> story about six nice young boys... Three died on Iwo
> Jima , and three came back as
> national heroes. Overall,
> 7,000 boys died on Iwo Jima in the worst battle
> in the history of the Marine Corps.
> My voice is giving out, so I will end
> here. Thank you for your
> time.'
> Suddenly, the monument
> wasn't just a big old piece of metal with a flag
> sticking out of the top. It came to
> life before our eyes with the heartfelt words of
> a son who did indeed have a father who was a
> hero. Maybe not a hero for the
> reasons most people would believe, but a hero
> nonetheless.
> Let
> us never forget from the Revolutionary War to the
> current War on Terrorism and all the wars
> in-between that sacrifice was made for our
> freedom...please pray for our
> troops.
> Remember to pray praises
> for this great country of ours and also ....please
> pray for our troops still in murderous places
> around the world. REMINDER: Every day that
> you can wake up free, it's going to be a
> great day.
> One
> thing I learned while on tour with my 8th grade
> students in DC that is not mentioned here is . .
> that if you look at the statue very closely and
> count the number of 'hands' raising the
> flag, there are 13. When the man who made the
> statue was asked why there were 13, he simply
> said the 13th hand was the hand of
> God

Joe & Annette

2002 Monaco Windsor 40PBT, 2013 Honda CRV AWD
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Old 07-20-2015, 12:34 PM   #2
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Michael Strank was born and raised just a few miles from us, several times a week we pass over a bridge dedicated to his memory.

Lynn & Andy Dudish
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Old 07-20-2015, 01:09 PM   #3
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Hi Joe,
This is such a great story.Thank you so much for sharing.Semper Fi.
Billy & Millie (2013 Allegro 36 LA) USMC VET
2013 Hyundai GT, 08 Harley trike
Mastertow dolly/doxies Gracie & Special
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Old 07-20-2015, 01:13 PM   #4
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I think we sometimes forget that the "men" who die for our freedom are usually just teenage boys. Thanks, Joe.
.2012 Fleetwood Bounder 33C | 2012 Jeep Wrangler

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Old 07-20-2015, 04:31 PM   #5
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Very good Joe, Thanks from a USMC veteran Semper Fi!
Bob, Sandi & Marmaduke the Big Pug
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Old 07-20-2015, 04:36 PM   #6
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I grew up about 30 miles from Antigo WI and heard of Mr Bradley's story over the years.

I have an uncle who died in WWII and is buried in an unmarked grave on an island in the Pacific, neither my mom or grandmother talked much of what happened to him.

Thanks for the post, puts things in perspective as to what the Great Generation did for this country.
Jim J
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Old 07-25-2015, 09:29 AM   #7
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Thanks Joe for a great story. With what's going on in this country today we need to remember just why it is that these non patriotic clowns have a place they can spew their nonsense and the cost it took to have what little freedom we have left. As an Army vet I was proud to serve and thanks to all y'all that put on a uniform.
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Old 07-25-2015, 09:58 AM   #8
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the statue

Thanks Joe for that story, it was really great. I was a medic in Nam 25 INF.
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Old 07-25-2015, 10:04 AM   #9
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Thank you Joe,
I had a hard time holding back the water from my eyes on that one.

It also reinforces my reason for the continued work I do for our country's war fighters.

Serve proudly, Proud to serve.
Dan & Loretta, US Army Retired Aero Scout Pilot
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Old 07-25-2015, 10:10 AM   #10
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Thanks Joe, great story, if only every kid could hear that we would be a much better off in today's world.

Mike & Charlotte
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Orange County, California
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