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7 Interesting Facts about the Marine Corps War Memorial

Located in Arlington, Virginia, adjacent to the Arlington National Cemetery, the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial is definitely a “must-see” — or more appropriately a “must-photograph” near Washington, DC.  Before you visit make sure you know a little more about the Memorial by checking out our 7 Interesting Facts about the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial!

1. The memorial represents our nation’s gratitude to Marines and those who have fought beside them.

2. It is more commonly known as the Iwo Jima Memorial because the memorial is modeled after the 1945 Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of the second flag raising on Iwo Jima by Associated Press photographer, Joe Rosenthal. (By the way, the two flags raised on Iwo Jima are in the collection of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, VA.  The second flag is on display daily at the Museum.)

3. Three of the six flag raisers died fighting in the battle of Iwo Jima.  The three survivors, Rene A. Gagnon, Ira Hayes and John H. Bradley, posed for the memorial’s sculpture, Felix W. de Weldon.  De Weldon modeled their faces in clay for the memorial.  He also used details and photos of the deceased flag raisers to model their faces for the sculpture.

4. The base of the memorial is composed of rough Swedish granite and contains inscriptions of the location and dates of every major battle involving the Marine Corps.

5. The flag at the top of the pole flies at full mast 24 hours a day, 365 days a year thanks to a 1961 Presidential Proclamation by John F. Kennedy.

6. The National Park Service received a $5.37 million donation in April, 2015 to restore the memorial base and the statue.  Restoration began this summer and will continue for two more years.

7.  Every summer the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon and “The Commandant’s Own”, The U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps perform Sunset Parades at the Memorial and the performances are free and open to the public.

BONUS FACT:  On June 23, 2016, the U.S. Marine Corps concluded that a previously UNKNOWN Marine is in the iconic flag raising image taken atop Mt. Suribachi during the battle of Iwo Jima in 1945!    The Corps announced that one of the six men in the Rosenthal photograph was misidentified. They now believes Navy Pharmacist’s Mate 2nd Class John Bradley was not in the Rosenthal image, but was involved in the initial flag raising hours before the famous photo was taken.  Based upon the evidence reviewed, another Marine, Private First Class Harold Schultz, from Detroit, Mich. was the sixth man caught in the frame of what is considered the most famous war photograph.

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