Iwo Jima and the Monumental Sacrifice

Photo Credit: Brandon Bourdages / Shutterstock.com "Some people wonder all their lives if they made a difference," Ronald Reagan once said. Then he added, "The Marines don't have that problem." That was certainly true of the Marines who fought and died on a little island called Iwo Jima seventy years ago now.

In the final phase of the war in the Pacific, Iwo Jima was strategic and essential to America and Japan — and it would cost them both dearly. Two out of every three Marines on Iwo Jima were killed or wounded before the Americans took the island. The fierce, heroic struggle was captured in what would become the most famous photograph of the war: Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, taken on Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945.

Joe Rosenthal's photograph, like the larger-than-life men he captured on camera, became the basis for the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. Though dedicated to the service and sacrifice of the Marines in all of America's wars, it is still often referred to simply as the "Iwo Jima Memorial." It is the tallest bronze statue in the world. The soldier figures are each over thirty feet tall, and the rifles are sixteen feet long.

Photographs, to use Lance Morrow's phrase, "imprison time in a rectangle," but they can never tell the whole story. Raising the flag on Mount Suribachi wasn't the moment of victory — a triumphant point between war and peace. Three of the six men who raised the flag on February 23 would be killed in action on Iwo Jima in a battle that would rage on for another month. The flag represented hope when it was raised — it did not represent victory.

[Read the rest of the article at Desiring God.]