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Six Boys And Thirteen Hands...

posted 9/14/2007 8:49:26 PM |
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This came to me in an e-mail...I don't know who wrote it,but I thought it was worth sharing with y'all.I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.I think it is an awesome story.

Six Boys And Thirteen Hands...

Each year I am hired to go to Washington, DC, with the eighth grade class
from Clinton, WI where I grew up, to videotape their trip. I greatly enjoy
visiting our nation's capitol, and each year I take some special memories
back with me. This fall's trip was especially memorable.

On the last night of our trip, we stopped at the Iwo Jima memorial. This
memorial is the largest bronze statue in the world and depicts one of the
most famous photographs in history -- that of the six brave soldiers raising
the American Flag at the top of a rocky hill on the island of Iwo Jima,
Japan, during WW II.

Over one hundred students and chaperones piled off the buses and headed
towards the memorial. I noticed a solitary figure at the base of the statue,
and as I got closer he asked, "Where are you guys from?"

I told him that we were from Wisconsin "Hey, I'm a cheese head, too! Come
gather around, Cheese heads, and I will tell you a story."

(James Bradley just happened to be in Washington, DC, to speak at the
memorial the following day. He was there that night to say good night to his
dad, who had passed away. He was just about to leave when he saw the buses
pull up. I videotaped him as he spoke to us, and received his permission to
share what he said from my videotape. It is one thing to tour the incredible
monuments filled with history in Washington, D.C., but it is quite another
to get the kind of insight we received that night.)

When all had gathered around, he reverently began to speak. (Here are his
words that night.)

"My name is James Bradley and I'm from Antigo, Wisconsin My dad is on that
statue, and I just wrote a book called "Flags of Our Fathers" which is #5 on
the New York Times Best Seller list right now. It is the story of the six
boys you see behind me .

"Six boys raised the flag. The first guy putting the pole in the ground is
Harlon Block. Harlon was an all-state football player. He enlisted in the
Marine Corps with all the senior members of his football team. They were off
to p lay another type of game. A game called "War." But it didn't turn out
to be a game. Harlon, at the age of 21, died with his intestines in his
hands. I don't say that to gross you out, I say that because there are
people who stand in front of this statue and talk about the glory of war.
You guys need to know that most of the boys in Iwo Jima were 17, 18, and
19 years old - and it was so hard that the ones who did make it home never
even would talk to their families about it.

(He pointed to the statue) "You see this next guy? That's Rene Gagnon from
New Hampshire. If you took Rene's helmet off at the moment this photo was
taken and looked in the webbing of that helmet, you would find a photograph
... a photograph of his girlfriend. Rene put that in there for protection
because he was scared. He was 18 years old. It was just boys who won the
battle of Iwo Jima. Boys. Not old men.

"The next guy here, the third guy in this tableau, was Sergeant Mike Strank.
Mike is my hero. He was the hero of all these guys. They called him the "old
man" because he was so old. He was already 24. When Mike would motivate his
boys in training camp, he didn't say, 'Let's go kill some Japanese' or
'Let's die for our country.' He knew he was talking to little boys. Instead
he would say, 'You do what I say, and I'll get you home to your mothers.'

"The last guy on this side of the statue is Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian from
Arizona. Ira Hayes was one who walked off Iwo Jima . He went into the White
House with my dad. President Truman told him, 'You're a hero.' He told
reporters, 'How can I feel like a hero when 250 of my buddies hit the island
with me and only 27 of us walked off alive?' So you take your class at
school, 250 of you spending a year together having fun, doing everything
together. Then all 250 of you hit the beach, but only 27 of your classmates
walk off alive. That was Ira Hayes. He had images of horror in his mind. Ira
Hayes carried the pain home with him and eventually died dead drunk, face
down at the age of 32, ten years after this picture was taken).

"The next guy, going around the statue, is Franklin Sousley from Hilltop,
Kentucky. A fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. His best friend, who is now 70, told
me, 'Yeah, you know, we took two cows up on the porch of the Hilltop General
Store. Then we strung wire across the stairs so the cows couldn't get down.
Then we fed them Epsom salts. Those cows crapped all night.' Yes, he was a
fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. Franklin died on Iwo Jima at the age of 19. When
the telegram came to tell his mother that he was dead, it went to the
Hilltop General Store. A barefoot boy ran that telegram up to his mother's
farm. The neighbors could hear her scream all night and into the morning.
Those neighbors lived a quarter of a mile away.

"The next guy, as we continue to go around the statue, is my dad, John
Bradley from Antigo, Wisconsin, where I was raised. My dad lived until
1994, but he would never give interviews. When Walter Cronkite's producers
or the New York Times would call, we were trained as little kids to say "No,
I'm sorry, sir, my dad's not here. He is in Canada fishing. No, there is no
phone there, sir. No, we don't know when he is coming back." My dad never
fished or even went to Canada. Usually, he was sitting there right at the
table eating his Campbell's soup. But we had to tell the press that he was
out fishing. He didn't want to talk to the press.

"You see, like Ira Hayes, my dad didn't see himself as a hero. Everyone
thinks these guys are heroes, 'cause they are in a photo and on a monument.
My dad knew better. He was a medic. John Bradley from Wisconsin was a
caregiver. In Iwo Jima he probably held over 200 boys as they died. And when
boys died in Iwo Jima, they writhed and screamed, without any medication or
help with the pain.

"When I was a little boy, my third grade teacher told me that my dad was a
hero. When I went home and told my dad that, he looked at me and said, 'I
want you always to remember that the heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who did
not come back. Did NOT come back.'

"So that's the story about six nice young boys. Three died on Iwo Jima , and
three came back as national heroes. Overall, 7,000 boys died on Iwo Jima in
the worst battle in the history of the Marine Corps. My voice is giving out,
so I will end here. Thank you for your time."

Suddenly, the monument wasn't just a big old piece of metal with a flag
sticking out of the top. It came to life before our eyes with the heartfelt
words of a son who did indeed have

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post a comment!


Sep 14 @ 9:03PM  
It came to life before our eyes with the heartfelt
words of a son who did indeed have
......?? do we get the rest? Great post anyways!!

Sep 14 @ 9:42PM  
i think it's wrong that i can't give more than one kudo to this.

Sep 14 @ 10:15PM  
I've seen this before and again it brings a lump to my throat. Thank you for the reminder.

Sep 14 @ 10:31PM  
sorry here is the rest of it!

Suddenly, the monument wasn't just a big old piece of metal with a flag
sticking out of the top. It came to life before our eyes with the heartfelt
words of a son who did indeed have a father who was a hero. Maybe not a hero
for the reasons most people would believe, but a hero nonetheless.

We need to remember that God created this vast and glorious world for us to
live in, freely, but also at great sacrifice.

Let us never forget from the Revolutionary War to the current War on
Terrorism and all the wars in-between that sacrifice was made for our

Remember to pray praises for this great country of ours and also pray for
those still in murderous unrest around the world.

God Bless You and God Bless America

REMINDER: Everyday that you can wake up free, it's going to be a great day.

PS . One thing I learned while on tour with my 8th grade students in DC that
is not mentioned here is that if you look at the statue very closely and
count the number of " hands" raising the flag, there are
13. When the man who made the statue was asked why there were 13, he simply
said the 13th hand was the hand of God.

Great story - worth your time - worth every American's time


Sep 14 @ 11:45PM  
To all my fallen heroes and fellow soldiers whatever branch THANK YOU
and MM thank you for caring enough to post this

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Six Boys And Thirteen Hands...