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Discussion in 'Uncategorized Threads' started by WWB, Jan 17, 2008.

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  1. WWB

    WWB Member

    Aug 6, 2007

    Six Boys And Thirteen Hands...

    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 Am erican 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 had 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 people 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 old -
    and it was so hard that the ones who did make it home never would talk to
    their families about it.

    (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. It was just boys who
    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 was one who 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 carried the pain home with him and eventually 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 moth er's
    farm. The neighbors could hear her scream all night and into the morning.
    Those 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, like Ira Hayes, 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 Wiscons in 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, without any medication or
    help with the 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

    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

    God Bless You and God Bless America

    REMINDER: Everyday that you can wake up free, it's going to be a great day.

    One thing I learned while on tour with my 8th grade students in DC that is
    not mentioned here is that if you look at the statue very closely and count
    the number of 'hands' raising the flag, there are 13. When the man who made
    the statue was asked why there were 13, he simply said the 13th hand was the
    hand of God.

    Great story - worth your time - worth every American's time
  2. locdoc

    locdoc Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Antrim, NH

    It's not necessarilly us older folks that need that reminder. A most sincere THANK YOU for this post.

    Doug Whiton, P/W dealer/dist
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