OGUNQUIT, Maine — It was a somber moment as a crew of six men, donned in military uniforms, marched across Marginal Way from the lawn of the Beachmere Inn to the beach cliffs in Ogunquit on Sunday morning.
The men assembled to reenact the flag raising atop Mount Suribachi depicted in the iconic Feb. 23, 1945, photograph by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal.
A crowd assembled to view the reenactment. The blue skies and rolling waves created the perfect backdrop.
“It sends a chill up your spine,” said Jerry Bazata, a local disk jockey who emceed the event, which was part of the town’s annual 27th Patriot’s Day Celebration, put on by the Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce.
Patriot’s Day honors the Battle of Lexington on April 19, 1775, the first battle of the American Revolutionary War. In Maine, it is observed on the third Monday in April and is a state holiday.
Although the Battle of Iwo Jima did not take place during the Revolutionary War, the reenactment is part of the town’s three-day celebration to give thanks to all those who have fought for America’s freedom throughout history, according to the chamber’s website.
The Battle of Iwo Jima began Feb. 19, 1945, on a volcanic island about 660 miles south of Tokyo and ended on March 26, 1945, when United States secured the island. It is considered one of the most pivotal battles leading to the defeat of the Japanese Imperial Army in WWII.
The battle resulted in more than 26,000 American casualties, including 6,800 dead. Twenty-seven medals of honor, the highest military award bestowed upon American soldiers for bravery, were awarded for action on Iwo Jima. About half of those awards were given posthumously.
“Ogunquit’s Patriot’s Day Weekend celebrates all that is great about being American,” Bazata said. “We choose to reenact this scene today as a reminder to all of us to give thanks to those throughout our country’s history, who fought and who fight to preserve our freedoms, and our ability to hold great events like this 27th annual Patriot’s Day celebration.”
Steve Twombly, one of the actors in the reenactment, said he and the others involved in the event wanted to give back to veterans who put their life on the line for our country and to let people know the heroes of Iwo Jima are not forgotten.