February 20 and 21, 2009 – 64th Anniversary Iwo Jima Landing and Flag Raising Commemoration in Sacaton, Arizona
"The flag doesn't wave because the wind blows it. It waves with the last breath of every service member that has given his life for this grand and great nation." Marshall Tall Eagle Serna
On February 19, 1945, a large contingent of Marines landed on the island of Iwo Jima facing an equally substantial army of Japanese defenders. One of the bloodiest, fiercest four days of combat ensued. Iwo Jima became the most populous 7 square miles on the planet as U. S. Marines and Japanese soldiers fought a battle that would test American resolve symbolizing a free society's willingness to make the sacrifice necessary to prevail over evil. A SACRIFICE AS RELEVANT TODAY AS IT WAS THEN.
On February 23, 1945, forty Marines climbed Mt. Suribachi in order to plant the American Flag at the top of the hill. The U. S. victory became a turning point in the Pacific War of WWII and provided one of the most memorable photographic images, the planting of the U. S. Flag atop Mt. Suribachi five days after the Iwo Jima Landing. The famous photograph of the raising of the second flag at Iwo Jima is the picture which has now become a universal symbol, an enduring image of bravery and heroism. Over the years, this image of Marines raising the U.S. Flag has come to symbolize the spirit of the Corps to all Marines — a symbol forever of the valor and sacrifices of the United States Marines.
In order to keep memories alive and to reunite brave warriors who stood on that tiny volcanic island, Ira H. Hayes American Legion Post 84 holds the annual commemoration of the Iwo Jima Landing and Flag Raising in Sacaton, Arizona, located on the Gila River Indian Community. This post was named after Ira H. Hayes and is dedicated to the memory of Ira H. Hayes, a Pima Indian born and raised in nearby Bapchule, one of six who helped raise the American flag on Mt. Suribachi a second time.
This event "commemorates" the Iwo Jima Landing and Flag Raising. Although the parade and ceremony specifically honors all who took part on the gruesome assault on Iwo Jima, all who take part in preserving our freedom are honored. We honor those who were attacked on Pearl Harbor, fought at Midway, Bougainville, Normandy, and on what is referred to as "Bloody Tarawa," Tinian, Roi Namur, Saipan, to name a few and last but not least, the battle of Okinawa which proved to be the bloodiest battle of the Pacific War where casualties totaled more than 38,000 Americans wounded and 12,000 killed or missing. They are honored.
Lieutenant Jim G. Lucas once said: "It takes courage to stay at the front on Iwo Jima. It takes something which we can't tag or classify to push out ahead of those lines, against an unseen enemy who has survived two months of shell and shock, who lives beneath the rocks of the island, an enemy capable of suddenly appearing on your flanks or even at your rear, and of disappearing back into his hole. It takes courage for officers to send their men ahead, when many they've known since the Division came into existence have already gone. It takes courage to crawl ahead, 100 yards a day, and get up the next morning, count losses, and do it again. But that's the only way it can be done.? And this is the way of our American forces to this day!
With memories fading and with the survivors? ranks thinning, those who fought in these battles still gather. Each veteran across the country marks their historic anniversary in his own way but most are thankful to be alive. With each passing year, the memories of Iwo Jima and other conflicts of WWII become less vivid and the number of survivors slowly dwindle. They are the ones who fought in Europe and the Pacific to throw back tyrants, to answer aggression, and to liberate millions.
We give thanks for the Americans who strengthen our nation with their example of service and sacrifice. Our military is drawn from many generations and from many backgrounds. Some charge across great battlefields. Some fight on the high seas. Some patrol the open skies. And all contribute to the character and to the greatness of America.
We honor a new generation of men and women who are defending our freedom. Our Armed Forces are engaging the enemy, the terrorists on many fronts. At this moment, more than 2-million Americans are on active duty, serving in the cause of freedom and peace around the world. They are our Nation's finest citizens. They confront grave danger to defend the safety of the American people. Through their sacrifice, they are making this Nation safer and more secure.
We are humbled by the strong hearts of those who serve. There are many who lost limbs. Many bear the scars of their service to our country. We as a nation need to keep its commitment to those who have risked their lives for our freedom as they follow in a great tradition handed down to them by all America's warriors. In public ceremonies such as this commemoration, we give thanks for the freedom we enjoy because of their willingness to serve. We celebrate and honor America's warriors for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
Veterans and military personnel from all conflicts are honored and are invited as well as families and friends. The parade, ceremony, gourd dance and powwow honors all those who have served this Country.
On February 20 and 21, 2009, the 64th Anniversary of Iwo Jima will be commemorated in Sacaton, with a dinner on Friday, and parade, ceremonies on Saturday. Gourd dancing and powwow will be held both Friday and Saturday.
On Friday evening at 6:00 p.m., the call to attention will ring through the gym at the Sacaton Boys and Girls Club as veterans from WWII to the present conflict stand at attention and pay their respects. As the colors are presented by the color guard consisting of veterans from the Ira H. Hayes American Legion Post 84, there is always a revered silence. For those who do not attend the dinner, the gourd dance commences at 4:00 p.m. and a social powwow/grand entry will be at 19:00.
On Saturday morning, the crowd gathers at the Veterans-Memorial Park that serves as a memorial to Native American war hero WWI Matthew B. Juan and to Ira H. Hayes. The crowd then moves to the street where the parade starts at 9:00 a.m. and makes its way to the pass and review stand.
At the start of the parade, the audience will be given an encore performance with a multiple flyover from a Confederate Airforce B17 known as a Flying Fortress or ?Sentimental Journey?.
The parade will be lead by United States Marine Corps. Attending are veterans from every major conflict as well as future service members in the form of Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps units and Young Marines. Entries in the parade include color guard units representing veterans ranging from WWII to the present conflict, organizations from the State of Arizona as well as many different states around the country. Native American groups are represented from Montana, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, North and South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and numerous others. Various representatives from Native American Royalty are in attendance. The thunderous roll of engines of motorcycles will be heard as several veteran organizations on motorcycles participate. Very important entries include the Gold and Blue Star families honoring their loved ones of Operation Iraq Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Each group will be announced with a brief biography.
Ceremonial events at the Memorial Park include massing of colors, flag raising, POW/MIA service, and wreath laying at the monuments. A gourd dance will commence at 2:00 p.m. and a social powwow/grand entry will be at 6:00 p.m.
The highlight of the day is always the introduction of WWII survivors. The majority of the Iwo Jima Survivors present are with the Marine Divisions which took part of the first waves on Iwo Jima. Also introduced are Navajo Code Talkers. With the survivors' ranks thinning, of those who fought in the decisive battles, a large number of survivors attend. The event is emotional for everyone. These veterans are always very honored, thrilled and have expressed that the whole weekend is always one special time and "won't forget it". One states, "the reason we have parades with perhaps coming down the mile-long parade, a hundred flags flying, is to honor those who made the supreme sacrifice as well as gave blood and limb in all battles and wars. It is nice to me to not be forgotten. Even, after 64 years!"
Friday DinnerRSVP by January 30, 2009POC 520-562-8484
Saturday ParkingThere will be no parking in the immediate area of the Veterans Park. Shuttle will be available from the following areas: Empty lot on Skill Center Road across from Middle School; Rodeo Grounds on Blue Bird Road; Tribal Offices on Casa Blanca Road; Boys and Girls Club on Seed Farm Road/Cholla Avenue; Handicap parking on First Pima Baptist Church lot
ParadeAll entries in the parade must register to be recognized and receive a number. Please register by January 30, 2009 fax 520-836-1022 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Muster Saturday @ 07:30 on Skill Center RoadENTER ONLY FROM SEED FARM ROAD.
CASA BLANCA ROAD WILL BE CLOSED TO ALL TRAFFIC. No vehicles, drop-offs, etc. will be allowed to enter from North end of Skill Center Road
Gourd Dance and PowwowPOC Marcus Sekayouma 520-562-1626 email@example.com
We thank you for your cooperation and we look forward to your participation. Safe travels.
Ira H. Hayes American Legion Post 84 520-562-8484 firstname.lastname@example.org
God Bless America!!
Submitted by Josie Kakar-Delsi, Assistant to the Event Committee
Four pictures attached
2-18-06 Massing of Colors taken in 2006the attendance has more than doubled
Memorial ParkPicture taken November 8, 2008 in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial within the Veterans Memorial Park at the dedication of the statues of Matthew B. Juan and Ira H. Hayes
B-17G Flyfort and 2-24-07 B-17the legendary trainer of WWII B-17 Flying Fortress "Sentimental Journey"