A Tale of Six Boys/ Iwo Jima
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    Post A Tale of Six Boys/ Iwo Jima

    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 capitol, 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."
    > (James Bradley 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 has since 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, D.C., 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 just wrote a book called "Flags of Our Fathers" which is
    >#5 on the New York Times Best Seller list right now. 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 generals 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
    > (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. Boys 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 walked 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
    >died dead drunk, face down 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. The 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, 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 caregiver. In Iwo
    >Jima he probably held over 200 boys as they died. And when boys died in Iwo
    >Jima, they writhed and screamed in 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.
    > We need to remember that God created this vast and glorious world for us
    >to live in, freely, but also at great sacrifice. 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. Remember to pray
    >praises for this great country of ours and also pray for those still in
    >murderous unrest around the world. STOP and thank God for being alive and
    >being free at someone else's sacrifice.

    Great story - worth you time. Please pass along

  2. #2


    Was wondering if anyone else had more information on a good story about them?

  3. #3
    Great story. Anyone read "Flags of Our Fathers"?

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