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A veteran salutes the American flag during the 34th annual Veterans Day Ceremony Nov. 11 at Quantico National Cemetery in Triangle, Va. The ceremony honors those who have served in the military and still serve today.

Photo by Ida Irby

Seven decades later, the Flag continues to fly

19 Nov 2015 | Ida Irby Marine Corps Base Quantico

Quantico Marines honored veterans during the 34th annual Veterans Day ceremony at Quantico National Cemetery, Nov. 11.

“Whether you are a WWII veteran or wearing the uniform today; a family member, volunteer, or a member of our local community, your presence here expresses the appreciation of a grateful nation,” said Robert Morris, Quantico National Cemetery administration.

The ceremony was opened with patriotic compositions performed by the Quantico Ceremonial Band conducted by Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Hutsell. A parade of the national and organizational colors, which featured the colors of American continental military units, was directed by John Hess, American Legion Post 290.

Following the patriotic salute to the flag, Danny Pummill, principal deputy undersecretary Department of Veterans Affairs, spoke about the importance of the first foreign flag to fly on Japanese soil. He also shared the legacy of one Marine who captured the “most notable image of American patriotism.”

Seven decades ago, former Staff Sgt. Louis R Lowery, combat cameraman, photographed six of a 40-man combat patrol team raising the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi during the battle of Iwo Jima. In spite of heavy opposition, the morning of the fifth day of battle, the mountaintop was captured. Half of the flag raisers never returned home. The other three were honored after the photo, recreated by Joe Rosenthal, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Photography. Today this image is the most circulated image throughout the Marine Corps.

The first and second Iwo Jima flags are a part of the National Museum of the Marine Corps’ permanent collection. They were carefully framed and conserved. The exhibit was also designed to “evoke the image of the flag raisers” photographed by Joe Rosenthal, said Owen Conner, curator at the museum.

“Both photos were captured at the perfect time and place,” said Conner. “The Rosenthal image is so iconic that it has, at least in some ways, transcended Iwo Jima, the U.S. Marines and even the U.S. military. To most Americans, they see it not just as a military photo, but one that symbolizes the potential and victory of our nation.”

Lowery went on to photograph six major campaigns during World War II, and was awarded two Purple Heart Medals. The veteran left service and continued his work at Leatherneck Magazine as the photographic director. After his death in 1987, Lowery was buried in Quantico National Cemetery.

“Standing on sacred ground at this final resting place of veterans, the cost of war to us is evident as ever,” said Pummill.

Col. Joseph Murray, MCBQ base commander, joined Pummill and Morris to place a wreath on a nameless headstone to remember all of the veterans who never made it home. “Throughout history, the laying of wreaths symbolizes life,” said Murray.

Following the ceremony many participants visited the gravesites of their friends and love ones.

“Like so many of you, I remember my relatives and colleagues who served in the wars of our time. We celebrate their lives as a priceless contribution that secured our freedom and the great American way of life,” said Murray.

“Value of freedom will never be forgotten, Ohh rah.”

— Writer:

Marine Corps Base Quantico