Iwo Jima reenactment highlights Flag Day celebration
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
Those gathered at the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena for the Cahaba Valley Elks Lodge’s Flag Day celebration on June 9 received a surprise not typically included in the event.
Toward the end of the program, which is held annually in the Civic Complex’s banquet hall, several members of the Marine Corps League donned historically accurate military uniforms and carried an American flag to the front of the room to recreate one of the most recognizable photographs in the nation’s history.
“We will never forget the sacrifice so many have made to keep our country free,” Elks Lodge member John Gaydon said shortly before the Marine Corps League group recreated the World War II American flag raising over Iwo Jima.
Several of the soldiers depicted in the original photo, which was taken in 1945, died before the end of the war, Gaydon said.
The recreation of the famous Iwo Jima photo came at the end of a program focused on revering the American flag and providing a historical look at the United States’ most recognizable symbol.
“There are many things we are able to pass on to our children through DNA, but patriotism is not one of them. Patriotism must be taught,” said Pelham Mayor Gary Waters, who grew up in a military family before serving in the armed forces. “We have to have occasions like this. We have to revere the flag.
“On the Fourth of July, we feel the need to be patriotic, but we need to figure out ways to do things like this the other 364 days of the year.”
The event featured patriotic music from the Tuscaloosa-based Crimson Pride Chorus, and a parade of America’s historical flags ranging from the Pine Tree Flag to the 50-star flag.
Members of every branch of the military also displayed their flags as past and present members of those branches stood to be recognized.
Following the Iwo Jima flag-raising reenactment, the Pelham-based Boy Scout Troop 404 conducted a flag-retirement ceremony in the Civic Complex’s parking lot.