Monthly Archives: May 2021
Subject:Six Boys ~ Very Short Story by A Teacher
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 capital, 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.’
(It was James Bradley) who 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 had 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, DC, 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 wrote a book called ‘Flags of Our Fathers’. 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 – and it was so hard that the ones who did make it home never even would talk to their families about it.
(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. It was just boys who won the battle of Iwo Jima. Boys. Not old men.
‘The next guy here, the third guy in this tableau, was Sergeant Mike Strank .. (from Johnstown, PA). 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 was one of them who lived to walk 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 school, 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 carried the pain home with him and eventually died dead drunk, face down, drowned in a very shallow puddle, 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. Those 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, like Ira Hayes, 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 combat caregiver. On Iwo Jima he probably held over 200 boys as they died. And when boys died on Iwo Jima, they writhed and screamed, without any medication or help with the 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.
One thing I learned while on tour with my 8th grade students in DC that is not mentioned here is, that if you look at the statue very closely and count the number of ‘hands’ raising the flag, there are 13. When the man who made the statue was asked why there were 13, he simply said the 13th hand was the hand of God.
*Forwarded by a dear friend.
My husband said he was really hungry for food from the grill and wanted to cook steak, hamburger, and kielbasa dinners. Friday night we grilled 3 steaks.
Since I’m really trying hard to lose some of my lard, we agreed to cut one of the steaks in half for our meal Friday. I also ate half a baked potato. Last night after working in the yard most of the day, we simply heated up one of the steaks and the remaining baked potato. We cut each in half. I’m cutting the third in half and freezing it for another dinner later.
Tonight we’re grilling hamburgers. I’ll eat a hamburger with a bun. I know I shouldn’t eat the bread, but I’m really looking forward to biting into a real burger, and will enjoy every bite. I will eat lighter for lunch and won’t have any snacks in-between.
I was a bit worried about a long weekend holiday killing my diet progress, but so far, halfway into the holiday, I’m still doing okay. Since Monday, May 17th I have lost 5-1/2 pounds. I’m still re-losing weight, but I’m down 28 lbs since my heaviest at this point. No pats on the head yet, but I’m going in the right direction.
“Cats always seem so very wise, when staring with their half-closed eyes. Can they be thinking, “I’ll be nice, and maybe she will feed me twice?” ~ Bette Midler
“A cat has absolute emotional honesty.” – Ernest Hemingway
“Those who’ll play with cats must expect to be scratched.” – Miguel de Cervantes
“Cats invented self-esteem” – Erma Bombeck
“The smallest feline is a masterpiece” – Leonardo Da Vinci
The tall plant on the left of the picture is lettuce that has bolted. I still managed to harvest some lettuce, but pulled this plant, and others out because the leaves will be bitter. The combination of the suddenly much warmer weather and all the rain we have had lately brought my lettuce harvesting to an end.
My poor spinach plants will do the same kind of thing soon, since they are an early spring plant. I’m going to harvest from the remaining plants as long as I can because the spinach can be frozen.
These yellow crookneck squash are cute, aren’t they. I don’t know what I’m doing here, but I’m having fun watching the sweet little things grow.
I had to pull the other two cabbage plants, and I still need to do a lot of weeding to get the garden in reasonable shape. I didn’t take pics of the tomato plants but they have little bitty green tomatoes and lots of yellow blossoms on them. I’m really hoping we have a good tomato harvest this year. Ripe sliced tomatoes are one of our favorite things.
I’m frustrated that I gained half a pound.
I wouldn’t be upset if I had eaten something I shouldn’t . Hopefully, that half pound and more will have bitten the dust tomorrow.
Maybe it has to do with the fact I started up my yoga practice again yesterday.
I will just keep on keepin’ on, hoping my efforts will come together.
Isn’t this dog the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? :0)
My emotions have been a bit like a roller-coaster lately, so I’ve been looking for things that bring my spirits up.
One thing that helps is a walk around our yard. We have some ‘things worth seeing’, such as flowers-
I hope seeing these brought up YOUR spirits, too. Have a wonderful day!
“Never judge a dog’s pedigree by the kind of books he does not chew.” ~ Unknown
“Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear.” ~ Dave Barry
“To err is human – to forgive, canine.” ~ Unknown
“You can say any fool thing to a dog, and the dog will give you this look that says, “My God, you’re right! I never would’ve thought of that!” Dave Barry