January 2018

Afghanistan and Iraq Engravings Added to U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial

Volume 101, Issue 1

Sara W. Bock
Courtesy of National Park Service

The U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, and the United States Marine Corps recently added new engravings to the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial to include the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns.

The names and dates of major Marine Corps campaigns and battles are engraved at the base of the memorial as is the Corps’ motto, “Semper Fidelis.” The memorial also features the phrase, “Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue,” the iconic quote from Admiral Chester W. Nimitz in honor of the Marines’ action on Iwo Jima. While the statue depicts the famous photograph of the second flag raising on the island of Iwo Jima in World War II, the memorial is dedicated to all Marines who have given their lives in defense of the United States since 1775.

“As the Deputy Commander of Special Forces in Iraq and a retired Navy SEAL, I saw the commitment, patriotism, and fortitude that American service members and their families display while serving our country. It’s a great honor to be a part of memorializing the Marines of the Global War on Terror,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “Our warriors who serve in Iraq and Afghanistan see more frequent deployments as our nation has been at sustained combat for longer than in any previous point in our nation’s history. The Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are warriors in the field and leaders in the community. I salute them and am grateful for their service.”

“These engravings represent the 1,481 Marines to date who gave all, as well as their surviving families and a Corps who will never forget them. The U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial is a living tribute to warriors. It is a sacred place that symbolizes our commitment to our nation and to each other,” said General Robert B. Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Made possible by a $5.37 million donation from businessman and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, the rehabilitation project also included cleaning and waxing the memorial, brazing bronze seams and re-gilding letters and inscriptions on the sculpture base. During the past four months, every inch of the 32-foot-tall statues of Marines raising the flag was examined. Holes, cracks and seams on the bronze sculpture were brazed to prevent water damage.

“Today we’re simply adding two words to the Marine Corps memorial–Afghanistan and Iraq–but what they stand for is historic and should make every American pause and give thanks for the sacrifices of life and limb that our Armed Forces have made to protect our freedoms. It is the greatest of privileges to be able to honor our troops and military by helping to restore this iconic memorial,” David M. Rubenstein said.

Rubenstein’s donation, announced in April 2015, was a leadership gift to the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks.

The next phase of the project will replace lighting, landscaping, and specially designed educational displays about the significance and importance of the memorial. The project is expected to be completed by fall 2018.