Sixty-five years ago today (February 23, 1945) one of the most significant moments of World War II occured as the US Marines raised the flag on Mt. Siribachi on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima. That moment captured first by photographer Joe Rosenthal, and later in bronze at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Washington, DC is one of the most indelible images in American history.
On my flight back from Washington DC this past weekend, I met a USMC veteran of that battle. This 87 year old American hero was accompanied by his USMC Vietnam veteran son on a trip to the nation’s capital to visit the Iwo Jima, World War II and Vietnam memorials. As they waited at the gate with me, I overheard them talking to the other passengers about their trip and how much it meant to him to be able to make this trip with his son to see these memorials.
In 2005, my husband David took his uncle, a World War II veteran who was one of the first to storm the beaches at Normandy on D-Day to Washington, DC to see the newly completed WWII Memorial. It was a wonderful trip and we were so pleased that our uncle able to make the journey. I only wish that my father, father- in -law, and more uncles on both sides of our families who were WWII veterans were still with us to appreciate the World War II Memorial erected to honor their service to our nation.
As we deplaned, I thanked both of these gentlemen, American patriots and heroes in every sense , for their service. They both had tears in their eyes, as did I as I shook their hands.
While we commemorate the achievement of those brave Marines 65 years ago today and honor those we lost that day, have lost since, and those who are still with us ; I hope that anytime you encounter a military veteran from any branch of the service, from any time that they served that you will take a moment, reach out your hand and thank them for their service. It is their sacrfice that makes it possible for us to live in freedom today.