Chamblee54

The Ira Hayes Story

Posted in History, Holidays, Library of Congress, War by chamblee54 on May 28, 2014






The post before this is about Arizona SB1070, a controversial measure dealing with illegal immigration. One of the men quoted is the Sheriff of Pima County, which lies on the border.

Pima County is named for the Pima Tribe, whose land was in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. Their name for the “river people” is Akimel O’odham. According to Wikipedia,
“The short name, “Pima” is believed to have come from the phrase pi ‘añi mac or pi mac, meaning “I don’t know,” used repeatedly in their initial meeting with Europeans.”
Many of the Mexicans crossing the border are Native Americans. They did not agree to the Gadsden Purchase , or the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo . In other words, they were here first, and the white man (and black associates) are the uninvited guests. Maybe the natives should ask the English speakers for their papers.

The second part of this feature is a repost. One of the best known Pimas was Ira Hayes. He was one of the Marines who raised the flag on Iwo Jima.

One of the enduring images of World War II was raising the flag on Iwo Jima. Three of the six men raising the flag died on the island. A fourth, Ira Hayes, became a casualty after the war.

The story of Ira Hayes is well known, but needs to be told again. A Pima Indian, his people had not been treated well by the conquerors. Nonetheless, when the War against Japan started, men were needed for the struggle, and Ira Hayes joined the Marines.

Iwo Jima was a steppingstone to the main island of Japan. After Iwo Jima and Okinawa were in Yankee hands, preparations could be made for the invasion of the main island. However, the stepping stone islands proved to be incredibly tough to secure. There were more American casualties on Iwo Jima than on D Day.

On the fourth day of the battle, a picture was made of six marines raising the flag on top of Mount Suribachi. A month of sticky, treacherous fighting was ahead for the fighting men. Of 21,000 Japanese soldiers, 20,000 died. Still, the image is inspiring. The photographer fiercely denied having staged it.

The flag was raised on February 23, 1945. Germany was all but defeated. The “explosive lens” for the atom bomb had been successfully tested. Viewed from the standpoint of 1945, it seems inevitable that the costly island hopping needed to continue, to be followed by an invasion of the Japanese mainland. From the view of 2009, one wonders if the fight for Iwo Jima, in retrospect, was really needed. War is fought in the present tense.

Two of the twelve hands holding the flagpole belonged to Ira Hayes. Ira Hayes did not adjust to peacetime well. He became a drunkard. On January 24, 1955, he passed away.

Ira Hayes was a native American. Thousands of African Americans have returned from foreign wars, to be treated poorly. Until a few months ago, if a man, or woman, is accused of being gay, the service is forgotten. On Memorial Day, we should struggle to ensure that all future veterans are treated with respect, all year long. This is a repost, with pictures from The Library of Congress.





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  1. Ira Hayes | Chamblee54 said, on May 28, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    […] struggle to ensure that all future veterans are treated with respect, all year long. This is a repost. Pictures are from The Library of Congress and “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia […]


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