Seventy-five years ago on Feb. 19, nearly 80,000 American Marines were tasked with taking the island of Iwo Jima as part of a battle during World War II. The battle—lasting 36 days and killing 5,931 U.S. Marines—is recognized as one of the most iconic victories of any American war.
Here in Northern Virginia, residents are reminded of the importance of this day, and the lives lost, when they enter Arlington, traveling on George Washington Memorial Parkway and Arlington Ridge Park, catching glimpses of the United States Marine Corps War Memorial.
While the statue—depicting American soldiers raising the flag in celebration of near-victory in late February of 1945—reflects real-life events, local residents and visitors alike will have the chance to see the actual American flags raised in Iwo Jima at the National Museum of the Marine Corps starting Wednesday, Feb. 19, as part of the site’s annual Heroes Among Us event.
The anniversary celebration will take place throughout the historic weekend, featuring speeches from veterans who took part in the battle, lectures surrounding related artifacts, numerous family-friendly events and much more.
The keynote speaker of this year’s affair is Hershel “Woody” Williams, a Marine veteran who was part of the 21st Marines, 2d Marine Division in the battle of Iwo Jima. Williams was recognized by President Truman in 1945 when he received the Congressional Medal of Honor at the White House, becoming the sole surviving Marine from WWII to wear the Medal of Honor. On Saturday, Feb. 22, Williams will share personal insights on the events that unfolded 75 years ago.
Throughout the weekend, representatives from service organizations will be on-site to assist active duty veterans and their families navigate day-to-day challenges of life, which is an integral part of the Heroes Among Us event each year. Plus, for the kiddos, there will be hands-on activities, screenings of historical films and treats for all to enjoy.
For those who want to learn more about the history-centered celebration and view a timeline of events, click here.
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