October 20, 2006

All The Boys Anywhere

The film Flags of our Fathers is a major topic right now. Since (I think) the year 2000, I have put up the link to the All the Boys at Iwo Jima website among the links of my homepage. I would like to share with you the simple words of James Bradley as they were featured there already long before his book became a bestseller and his message almost inaudible through all the media brouhaha.
ALL THE BOYS AT IWO JIMA

THE IWO JIMA MEMORIAL IS THE LARGEST BRONZE STATUE IN THE WORLD. IT DEPICTS ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS PHOTOGRAPHS IN HISTORY: RAISING THE AMERICAN FLAG AT THE TOP OF A ROCKY HILL ON THE ISLAND OF IWO JIMA, JAPAN DURING WW11.

THIS IS A TRUE STORY NARRATED BY JAMES BRADLEY WHO HAPPENED TO BE AT THE MEMORIAL ONE EVENING AS TOUR BUSES FROM A WISCONSIN HIGH SCHOOL ARRIVED. MR. BRADLEY HAD STOPPED BY TO PAY HIS RESPECTS AND TO SAY GOODNIGHT TO ONE OF THE SIX BRAVE MEN DEPICTED ON THE STATUE: HIS FATHER, JOHN BRADLEY.

THIS IS HIS NARRATIVE AS HE SPOKE TO THE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS AND STAFF:

"MY NAME IS JAMES BRADLEY AND I'M FROM WISCONSIN, TOO. MY DAD IS ON THAT STATUE. I JUST WROTE A BOOK CALLED, "FLAGS OF OUR FATHER'S" THAT IS ABOUT THE SIX BOYS YOU SEE ON THIS STATUE.

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 PLAY 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 GENERALS WHO STAND IN FRONT OF THIS STATUE AND TALK ABOUT THE GLORY OF WAR. YOU GUYS NEED TO KNOW THAT MOST OF THE BOYS AT IWO JIMA WERE 17, 18, AND 19 YEARS OLD.

THE NEXT GUY IS 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. IT IS A PICTURE OF HIS GIRLFRIEND, AND RENE PUT IT THERE FOR PROTECTION BECAUSE HE WAS SCARED. HE WAS 18 YEARS OLD. BOYS WON THE BATTLE OF IWO JIMA. BOYS, NOT OLD MEN.

THE THIRD GUY IN THIS TABLEAU WAS SERGEANT MIKE STRANK. MIKE IS MY HERO. HE WAS THE HERO OF ALL THESE GUYS. THEYCALLED HIM THE "OLD MAN" BECAUSE HE WAS SO OLD. HE WAS ALREADY 24! WHEN MIKE MOTIVATED 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. HE TOLD THEM, "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 WALKED OFF OF IWO JIMA. HE WENT TO 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?" IRA HAYES HAD IMAGES OF HORROR IN HIS MIND. HE DIED DEAD DRUNK, FACE DOWN AT THE AGE OF 32, TEN YEARS AFTER THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN.

THE NEXT GUY AROUND THE STATUE IS FRANKLIN SOUSLEY FROM HILLTOP, KENTUCKY. 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 THE TELEGRAM TO HIS MOTHER'S FARM. NEIGHBORS LIVING A QUARTER OF A MILE AWAY COULD HEAR HER SCREAM ALL NIGHT.

AS WE GO AROUND THE STATUE, THE NEXT GUY IS MY DAD, JOHN BRADLEY FROM ANTIGO, WISCONSIN WHERE I WAS BORN AND RAISED. MY DAD NEVER TALKED TO THE PRESS INCLUDING WALTER KRONKITE PRODUCERS AND THE NEW YORK TIMES. US KIDS ALWAYS HAD A LIST OF THINGS TO SAY TO THE PRESS AS TO WHY DAD WASN'T AVAILABLE TO TALK TO THEM.

MY DAD DIDN'T SEE HIMSELF AS A HERO. EVERYONE THOUGHT THEY WERE BECAUSE THEY WERE IN THE PHOTO AND ON THE MONUMENT. JOHN BRADLEY WAS A MEDIC. HE WAS A CAREGIVER. ON IWO JIMA HE PROBABLY HELD MORE THAN 200 BOYS AS THEY DIED. AND WHEN BOYS DIED ON IWO JIMA, THEY WRITHED AND SCREAMED IN PAIN. MY DAD TOLD ME, "I WANT YOU ALWAYS TO REMEMBER THAT THE HEROS ON IWO JIMA ARE THE GUYS WHO DID NOT CAME BACK."

THAT'S THE STORY ABOUT SIX NICE YOUNG BOYS. THREE DIED ON IWO JIMA, AND THREE CAME BACK AS NATIONAL HEROS. OVERALL, 7000 BOYS DIED ON IWO JIMA IN THE WORST BATTLE IN THE HISTORY OF THE MARINE CORPS."

JUST MINUTES AFTER THE FLAG WAS RAISED, SGT. MICHAEL STRANK, CPL. HARLON BLOCK, AND PFC FRANKLIN SOUSLEY WERE KILLED.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME. GOOD EVENING."
May God bless them and their memory.

4 comments:

allenhoward2000 said...

Wow!

I will repost James Bradley's comments in several forums where they will appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Left unsaid was that was what war was about and why intelligent people loathe it. Yet the USA and others had a duty to defend itself from the Japanese.

The interview is ready on my blog. You have a host of people awaiting your responses. You have a wide fan base amongst my circle of friends.

The_Editrix said...

Beak, I am trying to log in to your comment section for hours now. It doesn't work.

JMK2006 said...

We need to know this history. Thanks. If Debbie Schlussel's review is accurate, then what you posted here is worth more than the Eastwood movie.