Monday, May 22, 2017

Interesting facts about the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial

The United States Marine Corps was established on November 10, 1775 and serves an important role in the U.S. Military. A national memorial is dedicated to the Marines and is located in Arlington, Virginia, just outside of the District and the National Mall.

Photo of the Memorial taken during an evening tour

10 facts about the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial


1. The Marine Corps Memorial is also known as the “Iwo Jima Memorial” because the statue itself is based on the famous Iwo Jima photograph taken on Feb. 23, 1945 as Marines from Company E, 2nd Battalion raised the American flag atop Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima after they captured the extinct volcano during World War II. The renowned photo was taken by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press. The image won a Pulitzer Prize.

By USMC Archives from Quantico, USA (Flag Raising on Iwo Jima, 1945) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

2. The statue signifies gratitude to all of the U.S. Marines and those who have fought beside them since the branch’s inception. 

3. The Memorial was dedicated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the 179th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. on Nov. 10, 1954.

4. Felix W. de Weldon, a U.S. Navy serviceman, sculpted the statue based on the iconic photograph,
 first with a small model then a life-sized one. Three survivors of the flag raising posed for the sculpting session to capture their faces. The faces of the three who did not survive Iwo Jima were sculpted by de Weldon based on photographs that had been taken of them. The statue was then plastered and then cast in bronze. The figures in the statue are positioned as they were in Rosenthal’s original photograph.

5. The names of the Marines are Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, John Bradley, Michael Strank, Rene Gagnon and Harlon Block.

6. The Marines are 32 feet high and are raising a 60-foot bronze flagpole. The M-I rifle is 16 feet long, the carbine is 12 feet long. The entire memorial is approximately 78 feet tall.

7. The memorial sits on a granite base; the granite came from Sweden. There is a flag at the top of the pole which flies 24/7 year-round by presidential proclamation.

8. It took three trucks to bring the memorial statue to D.C. The statue was transported in pieces and welded/bolted back together once reaching Washington.

9. According to NPS, “The names and dates of every principal Marine Corps engagement since the founding of the Corps form a gold ring around the base.”

10. The statue cost $850,000 and no public funds were used to build the memorial. The money was donated by U.S. Marines, friends of the Marine Corps and Naval Service members.

If you want to visit the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial, it is actually in Virginia, located on Arlington Ridge and near to the Arlington Cemetery. It is open from 6 a.m. to midnight every day. You can take the Metro to Arlington Cemetery or Rosslyn (the memorial is about a 10 to 15 minute walk from these stops) or there is some limited parking at the memorial (if you plan to visit during June or July on a Tuesday, you won’t be able to park here). Many of the tour buses also stop at this memorial, if you plan to take a tour, ask the organizers if the Iwo Jima Memorial is one of the stops.

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