Tale of Six Boys

Discussion in 'General Conversation' started by Bubbakat, Nov 9, 2006.

  1. Bubbakat

    Bubbakat New Member

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    Tale of Six Boys

    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 has since 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 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 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.

    (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. Boys 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 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 sch! ool, 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 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. The 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, 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 in 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 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 freedom. Remember to
    pray praises for this great country of ours and also pray for those
    still in murderous unrest around the world. STOP and thank God for being
    alive and being free at someone else's sacrifice.

    God Bless You and God Bless **America**.

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

    Great story - worth your time. Please pass it along..*