Thursday, February 23, 2012


"For a few days, I set aside my comfortable life-my business concerns, my life in Rye, New York-and made a pilgrimage to the other side of the world, to a primitive flyspeck island in the Pacific. There, waiting for me, was the mountain the boys had climbed in the midst of a terrible battle half a century earlier. One of them was my father. The mountain was called Suribachi, the island, Iwo Jima."

-Opening from "Flags of Our Fathers"


On February 23, 1945, six young men raised the flag of the United States of America on top of Mt. Suribachi  once for symbolism of victory, then a second time for photographer, Joe Rosenthal. 

What makes a person a hero?

If you ever learn anything about me, you will learn that my favorite era in history is WWII. I have ready many books about the battles in the Pacific, but none moved me like "Flags of Our Fathers".

For me, what sets this book a part from others is that it's about the Marines who fought on Iwo Jima. My husband was a Marine and so was my dad, so the USMC has a special place in my heart. But the reason the battle of Iwo Jima sets this book a part from so many others is all the historical background the author, James Bradley, provides the reader.

I had never known much about Japanese history prior to WWII before. I don't know why my history teachers never delve into that part of history before when teaching about WWII, but Bradley not only informs the reader, he paints quite the graphic portrait of just who our enemy was at the time.

Ordinary Men

The most moving part of this book is how the author introduces you to the flagraisers on Mt. Suribachi, including his father. 

He does this with care and dignity making sure you never forget that these were ordinary boys thrust into extraordinary circumstances that forced them to come to terms with the cost of war at its ugliest. 

February 23, 1945. The iconic image of the flagraising on Mt. Suribachi. You can view this flag at the
Marine Corps Museum at Quantico, VA.

These young men fought for days on a volcanic island against an enemy they couldn't see. It would be days before Naval intelligence revealed that the Japanese lived in tunnels dug inside the mountain complete with oxygen pumped in and a hospital. 

Once this was discovered, the Navy and Marines knew how to battle the enemy and win the very important Japanese territory. It has been said that this victory proved to be a psychological blow to the Japanese leading to the end of the war. 

But what makes this story so special is the bond between father and son as James Bradley writes about how he never knew his father, a Navy Corpsman, was one of the famous flagraisers. He writes about how his father suffered nightmares every night of his life after returning home from the war. He details what each of the flagraisers endured when they returned as "heroes" only to be used for government propaganda to sell war bonds. 


We had the great opportunity to visit the National Marine Corps Museum at Quantico, VA a couple of summers ago. The WWII section of the museum has a special tribute to Iwo Jima. We met an Iwo Jima veteran there along with his wife. He was only 17 when he enlisted. It was an honor to shake his hand knowing all they endured on that hellish mountain. 


If you ever want to know why we fought as we did in the Pacific, what sort of men our Marines were back then, and how the wounds of war run deep...this book is for you.  They were the reason the war ended victoriously. A most admirable and touching account of the flagraisers before and after the war. A fine tribute to Iwo Jima Marines and Navy Corpsmen.

You won't be the same after you read this book. 



  1. Hmmm, I love what you say here:

    "these were ordinary boys thrust into extraordinary circumstances"

    And isn't it that, right there, that makes someone a hero? When they do something extraordinary without even thinking of it as extraordinary? They just think of it as what's right. They rise to the challenge. They never think, "This is heroic."

    I'm feelin' all patriotic now! :)

    1. Yep, that's what made them heroes! They stepped up without really knowing what they would face.

      I felt patriotic writing this post!

      Thanks for visiting! :)