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UPDATE: Iwo Jima Anniversary Service cancelled due to weather

By JOHNATHAN MINEHAN - | Feb 16, 2024

The Iwo Jima statue at Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve is one of three original, one-third-scale models. FILE PHOTO BY MICHAEL PISTELLA

Update from the organizers: This event has been cancelled due to increasingly inclement weather.

“The Marine Corps League will remain to conduct a small ceremony in hero of the legacy,” organizers said.

Original post:

The 79th anniversary of an iconic piece of American history, a grand battle in which U.S. Marines raised the historic flag on Mount Suribachi, will be honored in Cape Coral.

The 79th annual Iwo Jima Anniversary service will take place this Sunday at 11:30 a.m. at Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve in front of the Marine Corps War Memorial. The event is presented by the PFC. Paul E. Ison Detachment 60 Marine Corps League.

The history behind the battle that took place Feb. 23, 1945, will be honored with a flag raising and will celebrate those who have given their lives for the United States.

“The battle of Iwo Jima, which took place from Feb. 19 to March 26, 1945, was a pivotal moment in World War II’s Pacific campaign,” said Ariel Montero, senior vice commandant of the Marine Corps League PFC Paul E.Ison Detachment 60. “It was a fiercely contested engagement between the Unites States Marine Corps and the Imperial Japanese Army, fought on a small volcanic island in the Pacific Ocean.”

The ceremony pays tribute to the nation’s defenders and pauses to reflect on the legacy of those who made the ultimate sacrifices. This year, a civilian special key speaker, Lisa Cohen-Adkinson, has been chosen for her gratitude and the sacrifices she made during her service.

“The battle involved intense fighting in rugged terrain, with the Marines facing formidable defenses, including fortified bunkers and tunnels,” Montero said. “Despite overwhelming odds and heavy casualties, American forces eventually succeeded in securing the island after weeks of grueling combat.”

The monument at Eco Park is one of only three replicas of sculptor Felix de Welson’s monument. De Welson was inspired by the photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press which shows six Marines raising the American flag. The original is in Arlington Cemetery, Virginia.

The ceremony will have participants from a chosen color guard and an honor guard from the Cape Coral Police Department and Lee County Sheriff’s Office. The front row will be left open in honor of the World War II veterans who have served. A Marine Corps infantry veteran, Montero, will serve as master of ceremonies. The Detachment 60 of the Marine Corps League will also be in attendance.

“The ceremony offers a unique opportunity for unity and reflection. It brings together people from all walks of life to honor the courage and sacrifice of our nation’s heroes,” Montero said. “Together we stand as a testament for which the enduring spirit of patriotism and solidarity ensuring the legacy of the Iwo Jima veterans continues to inspire future generations.”

Nearly 7,000 U.S. Marines were killed and another 20,000 injured during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

With the numbers dwindling as most veterans who were 18-19 during World War II are now in their late 90s, The Marine Corps League PFC Paul E. Ison Detachment 60 continues to push the community to pay tribute to the veterans and show their gratitude for their service.

“The community can honor veterans by attending events such as the 79th Iwo Jima flag-raising anniversary, parades on Veterans Day, and volunteering with local veterans organizations. Supporting services like housing or mental health support through donations or volunteer work and organizing events to raise awareness can greatly impact the community and show your gratitude to our troops.” Montero said.

The 20-foot replica has moved from several spots in Cape Coral, with its current placement being along the Midpoint Memorial Bridge in the Veterans Memorial area of Eco Park.

“The bravery and sacrifice of the Marines who fought at Iwo Jima are legendary. Their unwavering courage in the face of adversity exemplifies the highest ideals of military service. These veterans are honored with various ceremonies and commemorations.” Montero said.

Montero suggests arriving early and bringing an excellent portable chair to enjoy the ceremony.

Four Mile Cove Ecological Park is at the east end of Southeast 23rd Terrace, off Southeast 24th Street.

The public, including all veterans groups, are invited to attend.