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Monday, February 23, 2015

The Marines of Iwo

On February 23, 1945 a group of brave men raised the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi in one of the most iconic moments in United States history. A photographer named Joe Rosenthal captured the scene, and it has come to be one of the most famous pictures ever taken. On this day, we honor the memory and the lives of these courageous and heroic men whose actions that day helped to preserve freedom for generations yet unborn. The following poem is my tribute to them and tells their story:

The Marines of Iwo

"You go on up, Shrier," the colonel just had said,
As the fire there exploded, and around him lay the dead,
"If you get to the top, Lieutenant, send a signal down to me,
And raise, on Suribachi, this flag for all to see.

"But then, if I don't see it, I'll know that you are gone,
So I'll send up someone else, and the fighting will go on.
Hustle up there boys, with courage, and help us win the day,
And take back Suribachi for the good ol' USA."

"Yes, sir," shouted Shrier, above the deafening noise,
As he clutched the small flag and rallied his boys;
The lieutenant began then to hike the steep hill,
Hoping he could take it without getting killed.

Every step brought him closer, and he kept pressing on,
Though he very well knew he might not see the dawn.
Crawling, at times, on his hands and his knees,
There were times when all he could utter was,"Please!"

"Please don't let me die, dear God," he thought
As another wave of fire hit the men that he brought;
With eyes still glued on the crater in sight,
He continued to advance and to keep in the fight.

Finally, the top of the mountain they reached,
And Shrier remembered what the colonel had preached;
"Find something to tie this flag to," he said,
As he looked 'round about him at the ground strewn with dead.

A bare piece of pipe was found near where he stood;
To the flag it was tied; he pronounced their work good;
Raising high the bright emblem, he saluted it there,
And a wave of hope then filled the air.

Below, where the colonel was waiting to see
If the men were on top and the flag was still free,
A Marine nearby him shouted," Colonel, it's there!"
And he raised his eyes to see it soaring up there.

"But it's not big enough," he added,"for all here to see,
So I'll send up another to those guards of the free."

When the flag, which was larger, advanced so slow,
With the orders to raise it, from the shores below,
Crested the rise, the Marines set to work,
Though the danger of death seemed around them to lurk.

Five Marines, and a Corpsman, volunteered to do the task
While their fellow comrades fired to prepare for them a mask.
Rosenthal was standing ready, as the flag began to rise,
And he snapped a picture quickly as it crept up toward the skies.

"Oo-rah!" the cry then sounded, and it trickled through the ranks:
From the top to the bottom, on the beaches, in the tanks;
The ships which sat in harbor sounded whistles loud and clear,
"The Marines once more have done it!" were the words from ear to ear.

The Marines went on to win what had been their toughest fight
Just because they kept on going, and they suffered for the right;
Now their names ring true to many, for those six they gallant were:
Their deeds of honor signaled that the victory was ensured.

Shrier, Hayes, Gagnon, and Sousley, with their buddies, saved the day;
Strank, Bradley, Block, and Johnson there, for freedom paved a way;
On this day we pause to honor those of them who gave it all
And raised the flag on Iwo - answered there the country's call.

These Marines of Iwo Jima who, for freedom, took a stand,
Did us honor on that mountain in that far-off distant land;
And it started with an order, but it ended with a cheer,
And the faith produced on Iwo keeps on going through the years.

One may think within that picture Rosenthal made famous there,
We can hear an order coming, piercing through the noisy air:
"If you get to the top, Lieutenant, send a signal down to me,
And raise on Suribachi this flag for all to see."