The Iwo Jima Monument and Museum commemorates a pivotal moment in American history. On February 23, 1945, after relentless battles on the rocky terrain of Iwo Jima in the Pacific Ocean, six Marines planted an American flag atop Mount Suribachi. This iconic act of courage and unity symbolized the indomitable spirit of the U.S. Marine Corps and their commitment to defending the nation.
The monument stands as a testament to this heroic event, capturing the scene with lifelike precision. Six larger-than-life figures, painstakingly crafted by sculptor Dr. Felix W. de Weldon, raise a steel flagpole, replicating the historic photograph captured by Joe Rosenthal. The figures are positioned as they appeared in the photograph, forever etching the bravery of each Marine into the annals of history.
These Marines—Sgt. Michael Strank, Cpl. Harlon Block, Pfc. Harold Keller, Pfc. Ira Hayes, Pfc. Harold Schultz, and Pfc. Franklin R. Sousley—are immortalized in the sculpture, their faces molded from clay based on photographs and physical statistics. The monument's base, crafted from black Brazilian granite, is adorned with the names of Marines who sacrificed their lives since the Corps' inception in 1775.
In October 1981, Dr. de Weldon gifted his original, full-sized working model to the Marine Military Academy (MMA) as an inspiration to young cadets. The dedication of the Iwo Jima Monument on April 16, 1982, at the MMA pays homage to the sacrifice of these brave men.
The monument's towering figures, the 32-foot-high flagpole, and the authentic detailing reflect the unwavering spirit of those who serve. Located on the MMA Parade Ground, this monument stands as a reminder of valor and sacrifice, inspiring young cadets to embody the core values of the Marine Corps.
Constructed entirely through private donations from Marines, former Marines, friends of the Marine Corps, and supporters of the MMA, the Iwo Jima Monument stands as a living testament to the sacrifices made for freedom. Adjacent to the monument, the Iwo Jima Museum further educates visitors about the valor displayed during the battle. Donations in support of both the monument and the museum are gratefully accepted, ensuring that this powerful tribute continues to honor the legacy of those who served with unmatched courage.
The gravesite of Cpl. Harlon Block honors the valor, courage, strength of character, and patriotic qualities of an individual that fought for the United States’ democratic traditions and structure. In 1995, Cpl. Block’s body was reinterred at the Marine Military Academy near the Iwo Jima Monument at the family’s request to have him near the statue.
About the Memorial
Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal caught the afternoon flag raising in an inspiring Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph. When the picture was later released, sculptor Dr. Felix W. de Weldon, then on duty with the U.S. Navy, was so moved by the scene that he constructed a scale model within 48 hours, which became the symbol for the 7th and final war bond drive.
After the war, Dr. de Weldon felt that the inspiring event should be depicted on a massive scale in our nation’s capital. He labored for nearly 10 years to prepare a working, full-sized model from molding plaster of the survivors of the flag raising (the others having been killed in the later phases of the Iwo Jima battle). All available pictures and physical statistics of the three who had given their lives were collected and then used in the modeling of their faces.
Once the statue was completed in plaster, it was carefully disassembled and trucked to Brooklyn, N.Y., for casting in bronze. After the three-year casting process, the bronze parts were trucked to Washington, D.C., for erection at Arlington National Cemetery. The plaster working model was moved to Dr. de Weldon’s summer home and studio in Newport, R.I., for storage.
On Nov. 10, 1954, the 179th anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially dedicated the bronze memorial in Washington.
In October 1981, Dr. de Weldon gifted his original, full-sized working model to the Marine Military Academy as an inspiration to their young cadets.