U.S.Marine Corps War Memorial

1954 - 2004

November10th, 2004 marked the50th Anniversary of the unveiling of
The Iwo Jima War Memorial

Background | Facts | Presidential Letters

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Felix de Weldon
Iwo Jima Memorial
Bronze with granite base
Limited Edition
Size (inches)
21 1/2h (42.75 w/flag) x 27 w x 17.5 d


In 1945, while serving in the U.S. Navy, Felix deWeldon undertook one of his greatest and most famous works, which catapulted him to fame, "The Flag Raising on Iwo Jima", known officially as the "U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial" in Arlington, VA.

It was a project, which came to occupy almost a decade of his life! In his own words: "A baby usually takes nine months, this took nine years. But it was a very big baby!"

He recalled that he was stationed at the Patuxent Naval Air Station in Maryland, when he saw Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal’s Pulitzer Price winning photograph of the six Marines, who fought their way up Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi to raise the American flag. He was so moved that he began sculpting the first model immediately. Within 48 hours he had finished his first wax model, standing 52 inches high.

As soon as the Marine Corps Commandant, General Shepherd saw the model, he transferred Mr. de Weldon immediately from the Navy to the Marine Corps and commissioned the first bronze monument where the figures were 16 feet tall.

Then the 78 feet-high masterpiece for Washington, D.C. was commissioned with every detail hand done. All figures were first sculpted in the nude and then the clothing was meticulously damped over the muscle formations, giving it such a life-like feeling. The scale is immense with canteens large enough to hold 64 quarts of water and fingers as large as a man’s leg.

The monument was dedicated in November, 1954 at its present site in Arlington, Virginia. It became the world´s largest sculpture ever cast in bronze and is visited by literally hundreds of thousands of people each year.

Felix de Weldon viewed this memorial as a symbol of unity, action and determination: the will to make the ultimate sacrifice and the dedication to maintain peace, freedom and hold our flag high.

This memorial is by far the most recognizable monument in the history of the world.
The famous inscription, witnessing their glory, speaks for itself:

"Uncommon valor is a common virtue"

In order to view the 1954 Invitation to the Iwo Jima Memorial Dedication Ceremony
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