Weekly Gem #117 The Marines, from a higher plane
Location: This 'hidden gem' is 100 yards west of the Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington, VA (see the Clue Me! Map). As noted by the gem's author, the statue rests in a slight depression, and most photos are from that level. But, a short walk west and up the slope gives a very different perspective, with the Capitol Building and the major DC memorials and monuments now visible (the view is different as you walk around the circular berm that surrounds the Marine Corps Memorial). Compare the photo above with the one at the end of this post for the 'elevated' vs. 'normal' views.
But, did you know ....?
It isn't widely appreciated that the photograph that inspired this statue was of the second flag raising on Mt. Suribachi that morning. The first flag was raised at about 10:30 am, soon after the summit was secured. There was cheering and blowing of ships horns, but the flag was fairly small, only barely visible from a distance. Battalion Commander Chandler Johnson sent for a large battle flag - " large enough that the men at the other end of the island can see it. It will lift their spirits also. "
The battle of Iwo Jima was the first U.S. invasion of Japan territory. The Japanese had occupied many islands in the Pacific in WWII, and the Marines were largely responsible for taking them back, one by one. Iwo Jima was the first island that wasn't conquered by Japan, but was Japanese territory prior to WWII.
In an ironic twist .... Ordered by Lt. Col. Johnson to get a larger flag, Lieutenant Tuttle went down to the beach. Near the base of Mt. Suribachi was a ship, LST 779, beached and unloading supplies. Tuttle went aboard and obtained the large battle flag, took it to the top, and it became photographic history. The ironic twist is that this flag had been salvaged from Pearl Harbor, and then found its way from the Japanese attack on the U.S., all the way to the U.S. attack on Japan.
The first flag (from the U.S.S. Missoula ) flew for about two hours. The second flag flew for the rest of the battle, and was badly tattered by the end, about 35 days later. Both were taken down with care, folded and packaged for their trip back to the U.S. They now reside at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
Here's the hidden gem entry from our Clue Me! map.
See DC and the Marines
The hillside to the west of the Marine Corps War Memorial
Why It's Interesting
The Memorial sits in a small bowl, and most people observe and take pictures from up close. But, if you go slightly to the west and up the slope, you gain about 20 feet of elevation, which is enough to see DC as a backdrop to the Memorial.