ARLINGTON, Va. --
Sixty-four years ago on Feb. 23, 1945, U.S. Marines stormed the sands of Iwo Jima and raised the American flag atop Mount Suribachi.
In honor of the 64th anniversary of that historic event, dozens of spectators and Marines, including nine individuals who fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima, gathered at the Marine Corps War Memorial today for a flag-raising ceremony.
One of the Iwo Jima veterans present at the event acted as a forward observer during the battle, calling for and guiding indirect artillery fire from the island.
“The [flag-raising] brings back so many memories,” said former Pfc. James Wheeler, a Falls Church, Va., native. “It gave me goose bumps all over to see that flag go up again.”
Wheeler also said Feb. 23 should be an important date everyone should remember because a lot of Marines sacrificed their lives for that victory.
Before the ceremony’s conclusion, the Iwo Jima veterans placed a wreath at the base of the memorial to pay homage to those who were killed during the battle.
The Marine Corps War Memorial was sculpted by Felix de Weldon, using the iconic flag-raising photograph shot by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal. The memorial was officially dedicated Nov. 10, 1954, on the Corps’ birthday by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
“This war memorial is a reflection of all Marine sacrifices. Not just the Marines who fought at Iwo Jima, but Marines who fought years before that, years after that and today,” said Michael Kessler, national executive director for the Young Marines National Headquarters and a retired Marine colonel.