When I began my career, my first job came with an unexpected perk. My walk to and from work in Arlington, Virginia, took me past the Marine Corps War Memorial—better known as the Iwo Jima Memorial. When the weather was nice, I’d spend as much time as possible gazing at the awe-inspiring monument. Sometimes in the summer, my commute was even better, with the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon practicing nearby in the morning, and the Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps performing there in the evening.
The memorial is sculptor Felix de Weldon’s masterpiece and, at 78 feet tall, is the world’s largest bronze statue. It’s based on the greatest war photo ever snapped: Joe Rosenthal’s image of six Marines raising the U.S. flag over Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi.
In his article, “‘The Common Will Triumphant,’” Mark Folse commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima by exploring how the Corps and the American public draw inspiration from the Marines’ heavy sacrifice and ultimate victory on that volcanic island. As the author points out, Rosenthal’s iconic photo and Weldon’s magnificent sculpture embody and keep alive those Iwo Jima themes.
Another feature in this issue examines the historian behind the history of World War II—that is, the 15-volume History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, by Samuel Eliot Morison. David Sears’ feature, “Sam Morison’s War,” covers the Harvard history professor’s experiences during the conflict—from lobbying the President for an officer’s commission to ducking to avoid a plunging kamikaze off Okinawa. Sears’ account of Morison’s campaign to write his history of naval ops will appear in a future issue
During World War II, Morison seemed continually on the go, traveling between the Mediterranean and European theaters; Washington, D.C.; and the Pacific. During one of his Pacific hops, he shared cabin space on board the famous Martin M-130 China Clipper flying boat with illustrator McClelland Barclay, well-known for his Navy recruiting posters. Like Morison, Barclay was a Naval Reserve lieutenant commander. While the historian’s postwar works would propel him to new heights of fame, the artist’s life was cut short four months after the clipper flight, when a Japanese torpedo sank the LST he was on board.
A century ago, the United States embarked on a noble endeavor, at least according to teetotalers back then. Prohibition—the constitutional ban on alcoholic beverages—proved a boon for the U.S. Coast Guard. As William Thiesen explains in his article, “Busting
Smugglers & Breaking Codes,” the Coast Guard’s budget ballooned as the service hastened to add cutters and increase manpower to combat rumrunners intent on making their booze available to would-be imbibers at a tidy profit. Complementing Thiesen’s overview is Daniel Laliberte’s sidebar, “The Real McCoy,” recounting how the Coast Guard took down “one of the most well-known and hotly pursued rumrunners”—William “Bill” McCoy.
Yet another anniversary event we’re commemorating is the bathyscaphe Trieste’s dive more than six and a half miles down to Challenger Deep 60 years ago. J. M. Caiella’s “The Trieste’s Deepest Dive,” describes close calls that could have stymied the record-setting ocean descent; shares recollections from Don Walsh, a member of the Trieste’s two-man crew; and showcases the author’s informative diagram of the bathyscaphe.