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A Short Christmas Interview with Jerry
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"This is what the Lord says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, and ask where the good way is, and walk in it. You will find rest for your soul."
Jeremiah 6:16 NIV

The Flag That Wins Wars

By Jerry Stewart

For years our flag has played an important part in our history. It has been proudly carried by Americans into battle. Carrying the flag into battle originally had one very practical reason…it helped the commanding officers to know just where their forces were. But the flag had an even more important purpose… it acted as a rallying point for the soldiers. You see the fighting often centered around the flag and if the soldier carrying it was killed or wounded, others would rally round the flag to keep the enemy from capturing it. Because if the flag was captured, many soldiers would just give up fighting. So, you see, to carry our flag into battle is not just a duty, it’s an honor.

There is no more powerful story on record regarding our flag than the unbelievable story of just how our American flag came to be raised during the battle of Iwo Jima. The American forces had been hopping in the Pacific from island to island taking on the Japanese strongholds built up on these islands. But, there was one island which was particularly strategic to both sides because the Japanese army had used it as an airstrip to launch air attacks against the Allies. This island was Iwo Jima, and taking it was crucial to an American victory in the Pacific… and the Japanese knew it.

So February 19, 1945, when thousands of American Marine forces landed on the beaches of Iwo Jima, they knew it would be a terrible battle with heavy casualties, but no one could imagine just how terrible it would really be. As expected, the Marines had to fight for days before finally securing a hold and then they began to fight up Mount Saribachi, the highest point on the island. It must have been exciting for those looking on to see the great strides that were being made by our forces as they fought their way up. Then, on February 23, less than one week after the fight began, the Americans took that hill. But just being there wasn't enough. So up began the dangerous climb of soldiers and photographers. And none of them knew they were about to play a part in one of the most famous photographic events in the history of our nation.

And, as soldiers on land and sea anxiously watched the scene, six brave Marines climbed that hill and proudly planted the American flag. And, by doing so, they said for all to hear, "We’re Americans… this is our hill…and with God’s help…we’re going to keep it." Thousands of soldiers let go with screams and celebration. It must have been and unbelievable scene. Then, later, a second larger flag was placed, and a second picture was taken. This time with 16 soldiers standing by the flag, raising their arms and weapons in triumph.

It was a tremendous moment in American history. But no one knew that those few moments of proud celebration by the soldiers… no one could imagine the horror that was about to come. Because, what followed was the single bloodiest battle fought in World War II with over 6,000 American soldiers killed.

Of the six men who raised the first flag, only three lived to ever see the famous picture. of the 16 in the second picture, Seven were killed and four wounded before the battle was even over. In fact, one of the photographers who was there, a civilian, died just days later while trying to save the life of a wounded Marine.

It has been said that this terrible battle, the battle of Iwo Jima, would not have been won by our American soldiers had it not been for their tremendous courage, and even more, from the strength they received that day, that moment, as they watched their American flag proudly raised high on the hill, for all to see.

020606.mp38.3 KB