Captain Grose's Adjutant pages

Please help me keep this site going..


BOOK REVIEW:
FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS

 

 
U
N
I
T
E
D
 
S
T
A
T
E
S
M
A
R
I
N
E
C
O
R
P
S
 
 
 

 

 


(This article appeared in the September 9, 2000 issue of the Observation Post, the base newspaper for Twentynine Palms, California.)

Capt Jason D. Grose
7th Marines Regimenal Adjutant


Mr. James Bradley has achieved success in writing a book of such quality that it is only overshadowed by the subject he writes about. "Flags of Our Fathers" is actually three stories in one.

First, it tells of the America of the early 1920s and how families struggled to scratch out a good life in hard times. He does this through the biographies of 6 boys who will grow to be unknown or unwilling American icons.

Second, he tells of the ravages of a battle, adding background about the entire World War II, and how horrific war can get. It is an assault on your very understanding of human interaction.

Third, Mr. Bradley outlines the aftermath of that kind of experience whether it be the individual, or the need of America to latch onto heroes in return for the pain inflicted on a nation.

The history of Americana was a real eye-opener to me. Anyone with an ungrateful modern teen should grab him or her by the neck and cram this book into their hands. It tells of struggle and happiness in simple things. Ironically, these young, fresh faced boys who grew up hard but happy, would end up paying the ultimate price but not before witnesses terrors unimaginable by the average person. It is a study in tragedy.

I have been a Marine, enlisted and Officer, for over 13 years and numerous times, I cried unashamedly while reading this book. Mostly during the vivid accounts of the battle and what was expected of these Marines and Sailors.

Imagine knowing full well that you would most likely die horribly as you chugged toward an island known to have the most concentrated defenses ever erected by man. Think about running from the sidelines of an open  football field toward the other side while every space is filled with machine guns shooting at you. Then imagine you cannot see them to fire back in an attempt to lessen the wall of hot steel pouring at you. Now, if you can, imagine doing that for a month every day while, at night, you must worry about them sneaking up on you and killing you. Throw in that everyone you knew and cared about was either dead or wounded while in the same situation.

Mr. Bradley found first-hand accounts of men who listened to enemy soldiers bayoneting American boys whose last screams were: “Mom! Mom! He’s killing me! Mom, he’s killing me!”

He notes that even though the fanatical Japanese, whose belief was that they had to die in battle in order to get into Heaven, were told that the Emperor’s name should be on their dying lips. Yet, their last words were always the same as every other man who dies in battle. That word, regardless of what country they are fighting for, inevitably takes some form of: “Mother.”

After trying to absorb all of this, the author explains in detail the real story behind raising that flag. How uneventful it was and yet how Joe Rosenthal captured a moment that symbolized, by its inspiring appearance, what America needed at the time: knowledge that the national sacrifice made on Iwo was a noble one.

But tragically, only three of the six flagraisers would make it off that island and the other trio were subjected to a public hungry for their image. The irony was that they were worshipped for being in that photograph while each one of them had performed unfathomable feats of courage and heroism before and after that moment which they were never recognized. And that, I think, is the crucial concept that embittered these survivors until the end of their lives.

In conclusion, this may very well be the best book I have ever read. If I could get America to stop what she is doing and read this from cover to cover, I think that the cohesive bond America had during this time period could make a comeback. I will force this book into the hands of everyone I know and wait to reap the flood of gratitude when they finish it.


Email -- jdgrose115@polyglut.net
Web -- http://members.tripod.com/~jdgrose115/

Please help me keep this site going...