I have now watched Clint Eastvvood's Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jims and been re-immersed in both sides of the battle that was the seminal experience of my young military life. Fields of Our Fathers (reviewed by the author in the November 2006 Proceedings) tells the American story. Letters from Iwo Jinui, winner of a 2007 Golden Globe award for best foreign language film. portrays the Japanese side. Letters leaves one with a profound feeling of sympathy and sadness toward the men who were then our mortal enemies.
Director Eastwood skillfully uses what I'll call "cinematic license" to dramatize the emotions and lives of the soldiers, For example, lieutenant Colonel Baron Takeichi Nishi, who won the individual equestrian Gold at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, is shown as having brought one of his beloved horses to Iwo before the American assault. The horse appears in its death throes, hit by an American air raid, with Nishi consoling it in its dying moments. There was no Nishi horse on Iwo but we do know that Nishi clipped a bit of mane from his Olympic companion. Uranus, and carried it in his wallet when he left Tokyo for Iwo.