FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS BY: JAMES BRADLEY Throughout school, many students come in contact with the picture of the six marines raising the American flag in the battle of Iwo Jima. The students also know this picture as a statue that was made to honor all of those that were lost in this tragic battle. James Bradley wanted to change how people looked at this picture or statue. He wanted to give each marine a name to go along with the hand or face that is seen in the picture.
James, when writing the book, makes each chapter the next stage in each of the six men lives. James Bradley begins the book by giving the reader the background of each of men. The men, oddly enough, represent how America was before World War II started. There is the farmer, Franklin Sous ley, the rancher, Harlon Block, the mill worker, Rene Gagnon, the Native American, Ira Hayes, the immigrant, Mike Strank, and the serious small t owner, Jack Bradley, which when placed together form a cross-section of America.
After outlining all the marines' history, James Bradley, then goes into why America is in the war in the pacific with Japan. He also goes into father detail as to why the six men joined the marines. Along with the six marines, James explains what characteristics in this war make it different, such as amphibious warfare. This is the method where Marine Corps troops go ashore onto Pacific islands from ships to assault the enemy (Webster Dictionary). Another important fact that he brings up, is why the battle of Iwo Jima is going to be so hard to win. This is because all the Japanese were train to fight till they die; not one single Japanese expected to return home because in their eyes it was an honor to fight till death for the emperor.
By the end of the chapter, all six men are transferred to a special unit of the Marines to begin a year of hard training. This is where they found out that they were going on a special mission to "Island X", later revealed as Iwo Jima. This training camp was also where they all met because they were in the same company, Easy Company. The men tried to stay up-beat, but most of them knew that the battle of Iwo Jima was going to be there last. After training the six men were then placed in a group, called Spearhead, which left Pearl Harbor and sailed toward Iwo Jima hoping to make land fall on February 19, 1945, also known as D-day.
The defenses the Japanese built on Iwo Jima was like none ever expected. They made what looked like an underground city with an extensive series of underground tunnels, James Bradley explains. This defense is what made Iwo Jima the bloodiest and most costly battle of the war in terms of lives lost and injuries. James Bradley describes how he found people to give interviews to describe the events of the first awful days of battle for the Marines at Iwo Jima. To let the reader know just how bad D-day was, James puts in these statistics: 566 men were killed, 1,755 wounded, and 99 suffered combat fatigue, which allowed the story to come alive. To allow his men to have an advantage over the other companies, Mike Strank told his men to head towards Mt.
Suribachi, so they could see the entire island. By the end the third day after D-day, the Japanese inside Mt. Suribachi along with the Marines outside of the mountain were killed in record numbers the people told James Bradley. Although many marines were lost, America still conquered the mountain.
To mark the conquering of Mt. Suribachi after four long days of battle, there was a flag raising, two to be exact. The second flag raising is the one in which the picture of six boys hoisting the American flag in the wind is of. Once this picture made it back to the United States it became instantly famous. Even though Mt. Suribachi was conquered, fighting was still happening on Iwo Jima.
Of the six men, Mike, Harlon, and Franklin were killed on Iwo Jima Island in just days after the pictures were taken. On March 26, 1945 the fighting finally came to an end. To let the reader understand just had bloody the Iwo Jima battle was James Bradley lets them know that of the 22,000 Japanese defending the island, 21,000 died and an astounding 26,000 of the 80,000 Marines who went ashore, were either killed or wounded. To get back to the reason why James Bradley started to write this book, to find out why his father did not speak of his knowledge of the picture, he steps back and takes a closer look at his own father's efforts to forget Iwo Jima and everything that came with the battle. The famous photograph, that brought America heroes and hope, only brought painful memories to his father, so instead of letting people know that he was apart of the picture, he acted as if he knew nothing about it. Once the three remaining men of the picture returned they encountered many challenges and hardships.
Ira suffers from alcoholism and eventually dies at the age of 32. Rene suffers from frustration as he grapples with his and his wife's need to capitalize on the fame of being a flag raiser were just a few of the hardships that those two men came upon. John Bradley seems to be the only survivor to have a normal life, but that is probably only because he did not let anyone know that he was apart of the flag raising on Mt. Suribachi.
James Bradley's mission was accomplished. The six marines that raised the flag up on top of Mt. Suribachi now have names to go with their hands and faces. Not only that, but they also have a past that goes with the name. If James's father would not have kept his secret from his family many people would have known about those men in the picture sooner. Now when one looks at the picture or statue of the six marines raising the American flag they know that they are more just the marines, they are people too.