Lex writes today of the battle for Iwo Jima, on the day after the 60th anniversary of that battle:
These World War II veterans are among us still. We can still hear their voices. And they can still teach us.
I have been to Iwo Jima – when I was stationed in Japan, we used to fly down there to practice our carrier landing patterns prior to going aboard ship for carrier qualification. It is a small, small place to have held such death. One wonders that it did not sink under the weight of the blood of 28,000 who died there on both sides. I have walked up LST beach with Suribachi to my left, glowering down from its fog-shrouded heights. Looked right and seen more rising terrain, an elevated sea wall to the right. I have made the long climb through soft volcanic sand and finally waist high grass, to get to an uncertain summit, and everywhere, seen the mouths of cave and tunnel systems in which the fanatic hordes poured out in counter-attack after counter-attack.
In nothing but tennis shoes and a bathing suit, I have found myself panting and out of breath, and thought about the men who waded ashore that day, 60 years ago today, with 80 pound packs and the noise and their brothers falling all around them like blades of grass beneath a mower. And I have wondered how they did it, and if we, whom they made, are made of the same stuff.
After Fallujah in November, I believe that at least some of us are. As for the rest, perhaps in 60 years’ time we will learn about how our great campaign to once again liberate millions from tyranny and throw down fascism of a different stripe was truly national in character. I am sure that if this great task we are embarked upon is successful, that will be the narrative.
Success, it is truly said, has many fathers.
Back a little less than four years ago, while watching the interviews of the real men of Easy Company, during the beginning of each episode of HBO’s Band of Brothers, I wondered if our generation.. my generation, had the same stuff as the men that conquered Normandy, and the Bulge, and Tarawa, and Iwo Jima… and then 9/11 came.. and I knew that we did.. as did those of my parent’s generation who had fought in the jungles of Vietnam.. and those that fought before them in the Marne.. success, indeed, has many fathers…