Iwo Jima Memorial & Harlon Block
Many people visit the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virginia and are impressed with the sacrifice these men made during World War II. Tourist bus in, take snap shots, and then go on their way to the next important monument. However, it’s important to take the time and find out who these men are. They are not just statues, but they represent real men. I live in Arlington, Virginia where the memorial is located and I have passed by the large statue on many occasions. What I take pride in when I see the memorial is the fact that the Marine burying the flag pole into the ground was from my hometown in Weslaco, Texas. Harlon Block was a graduate of Weslaco High and soon enlisted into the United States Marine Corp after graduation. I grew up playing little league baseball, soccer, and football in Harlon Block Park. Harlon was our hometown hero. Unfortunately, Harlon was soon killed in action after the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima. There was much controversy of whether or not Harlon was actually one of the flag raisers that day on Iwo Jima. Several Marines came forward to clarify that he was indeed, the lead Marine burying the pole into the ground.
In Clint Eastwood’s 2006 film Flags of Our Fathers, Block was portrayed by the actor Benjamin Walker.
The next time you see the memorial, think of the six individuals who sacrificed everything. I will always remember Harlon Block and the sacrifice he made. I think that it is wonderful that future generations of kids will play in the park in Weslaco, Texas that carries his name.
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