Thursday, November 16, 2006

Charles Martin's Blog. Iraq and Freemasonry

The tale of six boys:

Charles I thought you might enjoy reading this.
Fraternally: Jack

A Tale of Six Boys

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 capitol, 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."

(James Bradley 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 has since 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 on,
D.C., 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 just wrote a book called "Flags of Our Fathers" which
is #5 on the New York Times Best Seller list right now. 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.

(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. Boys won the
battle of Iwo Jima . Boys . Not old men.

"The next guy here, the third guy in this tableau, was Sergeant Mike
Strank. 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 walked 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 died dead drunk, face down 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. The 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, 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 caregiver. In
Iwo Jima he probably held over 200 boys as they died. And when boys died
in Iwo Jima , they writhed and screamed in 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.

We need to remember that God created this vast and glorious world for us
to live in, freely, but also at great sacrifice. Let us never forget from
the Revolutionary War to the current War on Terrorism and all the wars in
between that sacrifice was made for our freedom. Remember to pray praises
for this great country of ours and also pray for those still in murderous
unrest around the world. STOP and thank God for being alive and being
free at someone else's sacrifice.

God Bless You and God Bless America .

REMINDER: Everyday that you can wake up free, it's going to be a great
day.

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