By Crystal Nix
(Editor’s note: The famous picture of the U.S. flag being raised on Iwo Jima was actually not the first flag raised by the U.S. Another smaller flag pole had been put there earlier. There were six men in the famous picture showing the U.S. flag being raised. Three were killed later in the battle. The other three became famous celebrities in the U. S.)
Anthony Busceme, President of the DeQuincy Veterans Memorial Park Board, announced that Stoney Martin of Ave Maria Construction will begin the groundwork of the Veteran’s Memorial Park in approximately one month. Dubois Sheet Metal Works, Inc. has been contracted to fabricate a silhouette replicating the famous photo of the U.S. flag being raised on Iwo Jima. Brian Cooper, a resident of DeQuincy, will do the actual fabrication.
The overall monument will be 22 1/2 feet wide x 10 1/2 ft. high, and 18 1/2 ft. high to the tip of the flag pole. There will be over 20 tons of black lava rock used on top of the mound to represent Mt. Suribachi.
On Feb. 23, 1945, U.S. Marines took control of Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima’s highest peak and the most strategic position of the island. The battle of Iwa Jima was one of World War II’s bloodiest battles. It began on Feb. 19 and lasted until Mar. 27, 1945. Out of 22,000 Japanese soldiers, only 216 were taken alive as prisoners. However, there were over 100,000 American troops, with a loss of 6,000 soldiers and 7,000 wounded.
Iwo Jima is a small island located in the Pacific and was a key strategical point for the Japanese, who held control of three major airfields on the island, with numerous bunkers and over 11 miles of underground tunnels. The island would later serve as a major staging area for the United States military on the main Japanese islands during World War II.
Dr. Howard L. Snider joined the Marines right out of high school. He was one of those Marines that cheered the raising of the American Flag that day. That scene later became one of the most iconic scenes for the American war effort in the Pacific.
Dr. Snider had a lifelong dream of seeing an Iwo Jima Memorial built in the center of his hometown that was so dear to his heart. The memorial would portray the sacrificial symbolism made by every American Veteran during WWII, and all the wars that followed,. He saw a park with walking paths, benches and landscaping amongst a monument and names of area veterans.
A small parcel of land owned by Brookshire Bros., just east of the store, has been leased to the city of DeQuincy for a period of 99 years. The land at one time was a railroad spur used as a distribution point by Phelan Hyatt Co. for petroleum and gas products. You can still see the remnants of the spur today.
The board members, many of them former military, are passionate about seeing the project become a reality. Marine Corporal Anthony Busceme and DQVMP president had the honor of visiting the island of Iwo Jima in 2001. His ship was passing the island, and they were granted permission to access the island, and trek to the top of Mt. Suribachi, where he had the honor of presenting a 21-gun salute in honor of the US Veterans that once fought for our freedoms there. Hershel Frazier, U.S. Army, who passed away this year, received the first donation in March of 2017. Howard L. Snider, Marine, passed away in 2017. Both Snider and Frazier were instrumental in implementing the early stages of the DeQuincy Veterans Memorial Park.
The park is funded solely by donations from businesses and the community. Donations are still being accepted and can be made at Pedestal Bank to account number 24015265. To date, 200 bricks have been sold to commemorate area veterans. You may still purchase future bricks, but they will not be ordered or purchased until sometime in 2020.