70 Years Ago: Iwo Jima Survivors Remember

70 Years Ago: Iwo Jima Survivors Remember

Seven decades ago today, United States Marines landed on the tiny island of Iwo Jima—70,000 of them.  They would spend the next five weeks in battle, in some of the most horrific combat of the Second World War.  For 6,821 of those men, a horrifying death on Mt. Suribachi would be their fate…and their choice, out of their love of freedom.  Do or die. Another 19,217 were wounded, many in ways that would affect the rest of their lives. Across the country today the nation is remembering in local ceremonies and various feature pieces.

This anniversary is especially poignant in the ever-increasing way that these are; very few of these men are still alive to tell their stories.  In Wichita Falls, Texas, this year is the last reunion for local survivors; last year 31 men attended.  This year, there are only two left.  In Houston, a local Marine will tell his story again at a local event.

“When the Marine Corps calls, I say ‘yes!’ ” he said.

These events happened a literal lifetime ago.  The survivors went on to have children and grandchildren and even great grandchildren, and as time passes the story fades from the national memory.  Yet for those who remain, the story happened yesterday.  It happened a week ago, an hour ago.  The faces of those they lost—and those they killed—remain with them every waking moment.  The nation, on the other hand, can barely remember the anniversary when it rolls around.

Soon there will be no one left to remember at all, and it is our duty as patriots to ensure that these stories are not lost, not forgotten and replaced with shallow things about Kanye West and Grumpy Cat.  The legacy that these men left us is one of more than bravery, more than just the washed out term of “heroes” that society tries to tell us applies to professional athletes and celebrities.  They left us freedom.

Iwo Jima was not an orderly line of tanks facing their counterparts across a German meadow.  It was thousands of American troops clawing and stabbing and fighting their way through the mud and the body parts of their fallen brothers.  It was not shooting someone many yards away through a scope.  It was staring into his eyes while they sunk the knife in with seconds to spare before being killed themselves.  The iconic flag-raising photo forever burned into the hearts and minds of the nation was not a joyous celebration of a battle hard-fought and won.  In fact, the worst of the fighting had not even happened yet.

It is our duty to do more than just defend our liberties.  In fact, even giving our own lives in its defense is not enough.  We must teach our children these stories; we must explain to them why liberty’s defense is necessary.  We must ensure that they know not just the value of freedom, but the sheer, total, bloody cost of it.  We must raise men and women who understand…and still rise to the call.  Countrymen who know the hell they may be called upon to endure—and unleash—and yet do not turn away from it in fear.

Those are the kinds of men who today we honor.  If we expect to have a hope of a chance of protecting our children from having to fight like that for their own freedoms, then that is the kind of men and women we need to be.

That is the kind of patriot that I want to be.

Liberty or death.

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  • Kate says:

    Love this, Kit.

  • Appalled By The World says:

    The US of today bears no resemblance to the US of 1945. One might as well speak of fairy tales from another planet. What a tragedy this is-all those who died in that war seemingly have died for nothing as the Left throws the fruits of a great victory right into the garbage can. And all the sacrifices made then are conveniently forgotten or twisted in some insane revisionist history these days.

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