Date: Fri, 17 Jun 2005 15:09:46 EDT
Subject: Iwo Jima monument in Fall River.
Ground broken for replica Iwo Jima monument
Deborah Allard-Bernardi, Herald News Staff Reporter
FALL RIVER -- The famed image of six U.S. servicemen erecting a flag atop Mt. Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima will stand tall in the form of a bronze statue with the Taunton River at its back.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the replica war monument was held Tuesday at Bicentennial Park. The statue will rise up some 35 feet from the grassy landscape near the cityâs new boardwalk.
The statue is expected to be complete sometime this fall, during the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Itâs taken several years of planning and the collection of city, state and federal funding to move the Iwo Jima monument project forward.
The bronze war memorial will be a replica of the original 78-foot statue that stands in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. It was created by the late artist Felix de Weldon, who created three smaller prototypes before crafting the original memorial.
The city came into possession of one of de Weldonâs prototypes in 1997 when attorney Brian Cunha purchased his property in Newport, R.I., and donated the piece to Fall River.
Mayor Edward M. Lambert Jr. said the memorial will "show the fighting courage of those men and women" who fought during World War II.
"The city is very proud to move this project forward," said Lambert. "Itâs a fitting tribute to our vets."
The total cost of the project is about $900,000. State and federal grants equal some $400,000. Fund-raising and city money will pay the balance.
Originally, the war memorial was to be placed at the foot of Kennedy Park, but Lambert said the new location is a better fit since the monument and Battleship Cove will be connected by the new boardwalk.
"I donât think there could have been a better way to honor our World War II veterans," said City Council President William Whitty.
Whitty said the monument will "represent the sacrifice of our GIâs" and will be a "beacon of peace for all generations."
Henry Greeson Jr., 80, who fought with the Navy for six months at Iwo Jima, attended Tuesdayâs ceremony.
"I was there before the invasion and after it finished," said Greeson, a member of the War Veterans Council and a long-time commander of the American Legion Post No. 314.
"We went in there and started kicking (butt) right away. They were dirty fighters, but we fought dirtier," said Greeson.
Gene Camara, 86, who was in a plane that bombed Iwo Jima, said, "I canât wait to see (the monument) go up."
To help raise funds for the project, pewter keychains depicting its image are on sale for $10 at the cityâs veterans benefits office at Government Center. The keychain includes the total number of American service people killed or wounded at war, and the number of those who were from Fall River. About 1,000 keychains are currently available.
E-mail Deborah Allard-Bernardi at email@example.com.
Â©The Herald News 2005
R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952 (Plt #437)--'72
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