HARLINGEN, TEXAS (NEWS CENTER 23) — Marine Military Academy (MMA) will host its annual Iwo Jima Parade on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 4 p.m. on the MMA Parade Grounds. Open to the public, this event is a tribute to the courage and sacrifice made by The Greatest Generation to preserve freedom around the world. There will be special reserved seating for all World War II veterans in the parade stand, which is directly in front of the Iwo Jima Monument. During the parade, all veterans of all branches and wars will be recognized and asked to join the MMA superintendent for the ceremonial pass in review.
In addition to honoring America’s veterans, the parade recognizes the historical significance of the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. On Feb. 19, 1945, members of the 3rd, 4th and 5th U.S. Marine divisions stormed the tiny Pacific island expecting little resistance. Unknown to Allied forces, the Japanese had spent months fortifying the island through underground tunnels. A month-long struggle ensued in which over 6,000 Marines and 20,000 Japanese soldiers perished.
On fifth day of the battle, U.S. Marines raised two flags on top of Mount Suribachi. The second flag-raising was captured by photographer Joe Rosenthal. Rosenthal’s now-famous photo of five Marines and one Navy Corpsman raising the American flag inspired Dr. Felix de Weldon to create the Iwo Jima Memorial, the magnificent bronze statue located in Arlington, Va. De Weldon officially gave his original model to MMA in 1981. Since April 16, 1982, MMA has been home to the historic treasure known as the Iwo Jima Monument.
Corporal Harlon Block of Weslaco, Texas, was one of the Marines to erect the American flag. Though he did not return from World War II, Corporal Block will forever be remembered. His gravesite resides directly behind the Iwo Jima Monument.
Event-goers are encouraged to stop by the Iwo Jima Museum & Gift Shop either before or after the parade to watch a video depicting the Battle of Iwo Jima.
For more information on the Iwo Jima Parade, call (956) 421-9235, or e-mail at atkinson@MMA-TX.org . For more information on the Iwo Jima Museum & Gift Shop, contact Gloria Boling at (956) 421-9234 or e-mail visitorcenter@MMA-TX.org .