Sculpture at the memorial.

Iwo Jima Survivors Memorial Park

Field review by the editors.

Newington, Connecticut

Though in today's confusing struggles it may be considered rude to raise an American flag over territory gained in battle, it wasn't always so. On February 23, 1945, on a Pacific island held by the Japanese, US Marines died to secure a nasty volcanic polyp known as Mt. Suribachi. The photograph recording the second (minutes later) flag raising became inspiration for the famous sculpture that stands in Washington DC.

So is the version standing in New Britain, Connecticut a replica of a monument that is based on a photograph that was a replica of a repeated actual event? Almost....

Dedicated on February 23, 1995, the 50th anniversary of the original flag raising, the Iwo Jima Survivors Memorial Park salutes the 6,821 Americans who died fighting on the last strategic stronghold before the planned invasion of Japan.

New Britain's Iwo Jima sculpture bears an uncanny resemblance to the one in DC, but was created based on the original photograph of the second flag raising, not the DC statue. And there are other touches to link the memorial more directly to Iwo Jima.

Eternal flame.

The cluster of bronze soldiers stand on rocks taken from the mountain summit, and sand from the landing beach is mixed into the concrete base. The flag flying above is a "historically correct" 48-star version, though plenty of regulation 50s line the pathways.

The memorial was conceived and designed by Dr. George Gentile, founder and president of the Iwo Jima Survivors Association, Inc.

The park features an eternal flame sponsored by Connecticut Natural Gas, proudly and prominently engraved onto its black marble pedestal.

Also in the little park is a paisley-shaped rock vaguely resembling Iwo Jima, unearthed by a bulldozer during construction. Dr. George Gentile, recognizing the contours of the bloody beachhead, ordered that it be placed at the park entrance with a map of the island engraved on it.

Another couple of Iwo Jima statue replicas, cast from the original, are located in Eco Park, Cape Coral, FL, and the Marine Corps Base in Quantico (Triangle), VA.

In Harlingen, Texas, the Marine Military Academy displays the original working model. The canteen of one of the soldiers would hold 32 quarts of water.

Iwo Jima Survivors Memorial Park

Address:
Ella Grasso Blvd., Newington, CT
Directions:
North of New Britain, just off Rt 9 (Iwo Jima Memorial Expressway), exit 29 onto Rte 175, follow brown signs.
Phone:
860-666-5521
Admission:
Free.
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September 21, 2014

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