(From the book: Heart Touchers "Life-Changing Stories of Faith, Love, and Laughter)
by Michael T. Powers
**NOTE** This made me cry, but it is the truth.
Great story - worth your time - worth every American's time
Six Boys And Thirteen Hands... russ
Each year my video production company is hired to go to Washington, D.C. with the eighth grade class from Clinton, Wisconsin where I grew up, to videotape their trip. I greatly enjoy visiting our nation's capitol, and each year I take some special memories back with me. This fall's trip was especially memorable.
On the last night of our trip, we stopped at the Iwo Jima memorial. This memorial is the largest bronze statue in the world and depicts one of the most famous photographs in history -- that of the six brave men raising the American flag at the top of Mount Surabachi on the Island of Iwo Jima, Japan during WW II. Over one hundred students and chaperones piled off the buses and headed towards the memorial. I noticed a solitary figure at the base of the statue, and as I got closer he asked, "What's your name and where are you guys from?
I told him that my name was Michael Powers and that we were from Clinton, Wisconsin.
"Hey, I'm a Cheesehead, too! Come gather around Cheeseheads, and I will tell you a story."
James Bradley just happened to be in Washington, D.C. to speak at the memorial the following day. He was there that night to say good-night to his dad, who had previously passed away, but whose image is part of the statue. He was just about to leave when he saw the buses pull up. I videotaped him as he spoke to us, and received his permission to share what he said from my videotape. It is one thing to tour the incredible monuments filled with history in Washington, D.C. but it is quite another to get the kind of insight we received that night. When all had gathered around he reverently began to speak. Here are his words from that night:
"My name is James Bradley and I'm from Antigo, Wisconsin. My dad is on that statue, and I just wrote a book called Flags of Our Fathers which is #5 on the New York Times Best Seller list right now. It is the story of the six boys you see behind me. Six boys raised the flag. The first guy putting the pole in the ground is Harlon Block. Harlon was an all-state football player. He enlisted in the Marine Corps with all the senior members of his football team. They were off to play another type of game, a game called "War." But it didn't turn out to be a game. Harlon, at the age of twenty-one, died with his intestines in his hands. I don't say that to gross you out; I say that because there are generals who stand in front of this statue and talk about the glory of war. You guys need to know that most of the boys in Iwo Jima were seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen years old.
(He pointed to the statue)
You see this next guy? That's Rene Gagnon from New Hampshire. If you took Rene's helmet off at the moment this photo was taken, and looked in the webbing of that helmet, you would find a photograph. A photograph of his girlfriend. Rene put that in there for protection, because he was scared. He was eighteen years old. Boys won the battle of Iwo Jima. Boys. Not old men.
The next guy here, the third guy in this tableau, was Sergeant Mike Strank. Mike is my hero. He was the hero of all these guys. They called him the "old man" because he was so old. He was already twenty-four. When Mike would motivate his boys in training camp, he didn't say, "Let's go kill the enemy" or "Let's die for our country." He knew he was talking to little boys. Instead he would say, "You do what I say, and I'll get you home to your mothers."
The last guy on this side of the statue is Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian from Arizona. Ira Hayes walked off Iwo Jima. He went into the White House with my dad. President Truman told him, "You're a hero." He told reporters, "How can I feel like a hero when 250 of my buddies hit the island with me and only twenty-seven of us walked off alive?"
So you take your class at school. 250 of you spending a year together having fun, doing everything together. Then all 250 of you hit the beach, but only twenty-seven of your classmates walk off alive. That was Ira Hayes. He had images of horror in his mind. Ira Hayes died dead drunk, face down at the age of thirty-two, ten years after this picture was taken.
The next guy, going around the statue, is Franklin Sousley from Hilltop, Kentucky, a fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. His best friend, who is now 70, told me, "Yeah, you know, we took two cows up on the porch of the Hilltop General Store. Then we strung wire across the stairs so the cows couldn't get down. Then we fed them Epson salts. Those cows crapped all night."
Yes, he was a fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. Franklin died on Iwo Jima at the age of nineteen. When the telegram came to tell his mother that he was dead, it went to the Hilltop General Store. A barefoot boy ran that telegram up to his mother's farm. The neighbors could hear her scream all night and into the morning. The neighbors lived a quarter of a mile away.
The next guy, as we continue to go around the statue, is my dad, John Bradley from Antigo, Wisconsin, where I was raised. My dad lived until 1994, but he would never give interviews. When Walter Kronkite's producers, or the New York Times would call, we were trained as little kids to say, "No, I'm sorry sir, my dad's not here. He is in Canada fishing. No, there is no phone there, sir. No, we don't know when he is coming back."
My dad never fished or even went to Canada. Usually he was sitting right there at the table eating his Campbell's soup, but we had to tell the press that he was out fishing. He didn't want to talk to the press. You see, my dad didn't see himself as a hero. Everyone thinks these guys are heroes, 'cause they are in a photo and a monument. My dad knew better. He was a medic. John Bradley from Wisconsin was a caregiver. In Iwo Jima he probably held over 200 boys as they died, and when boys died in Iwo Jima, they writhed and screamed in pain.
When I was a little boy, my third grade teacher told me that my dad was a hero. When I went home and told my dad that, he looked at me and said, "I want you always to remember that the heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who did not come back. DID NOT come back."
So that's the story about six nice young boys. Three died on Iwo Jima, and three came back as national heroes. Overall, 7000 boys died on Iwo Jima in the worst battle in the history of the Marine Corps. My voice is giving out, so I will end here. Thank you for your time."
Suddenly the monument wasn't just a big old piece of metal with a flag sticking out of the top. It came to life before our eyes with the heartfelt words of a son who did indeed have a father who was a hero. Maybe not a hero in his own eyes, but a hero nonetheless.
Michael T. Powers
Copyright © 2000 by Michael T. Powers
Write Michael and let him know your thoughts on this story!
Michael T. Powers, the founder of HeartTouchers.com and Heart4Teens.com, is the youth minister at Faith Community Church in Janesville, Wisconsin. He is happily married to his high school sweetheart Kristi and proud father of three young rambunctious boys.
He is also an author with stories in 29 inspirational books including many in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and his own entitled: Heart Touchers "Life-Changing Stories of Faith, Love, and Laughter." To preview his book or to join the thousands of world wide readers on his inspirational e-mail list, visit: www.HeartTouchers.com
Dr. Nina Bryhn is one of my great neighbors and has many interesting things to say...
Nina Bryhn, our mutual good friend and Sister in Christ has said "YES" to being the keynote speaker for the February 26, 2009 Dearborn Area Right to Life Dinner. As you know, being the keynote speaker is a huge responsibility, as well as a great honor. I am emailing you today to invite you to join me Thursday night in supporting Nina with your attendance at this dinner.
The dinner will be held at Park Place Banquet Facility - 23400 Park Street - Dearborn MI 48124.
Let me share a few things of interest from Nina's speaker bio:
Dr. Nina Bryhn is an internal medicine physician who sat on the board of the Lennon Center (crisis pregnancy center), currently sits on Right to Life of Michigan Minority Outreach Advisory Committee, is an active member of Our Lady of Good Counsel (Plymouth) Gospel of Life committee, involved with ENDOW (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women ), along with volunteering at St. Leo’s medical clinic in Detroit.
Nina's speech is one not to be missed. Please join us!
The cost of the dinner is $30 per person. Make checks payable to: Dearborn Area RTL and mail to 508 Centralia St., Dearborn Hts, MI 48127. Contact Susan (313) 274-6237 for more information.
I look forward to your attendance at the dinner and support of Nina. Let me know if you have any questions. Please keep Nina wrapped in prayer – no doubt she will share a powerful message as it relaties to the dignity and sanctity of human life.
Your Sister in Christ,
P.S. You should feel free to share this invitation with others who may wish to attend the dinner to support Nina. Thanks for helping out to get the word out.
How many zeros in a billion?
This is too true to be funny.
The next time you hear a politician use the
Word 'billion' in a casual manner, think about
whether you want the 'politicians' spending
YOUR tax money.
A billion is a difficult number to comprehend,
but one advertising agency did a good job of
putting that figure into some perspective in
one of it's releases.
A billion seconds ago it was 1959.
A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.
A billion hours ago our ancestors were
living in the Stone Age.
A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.
A billion dollars ago was only
8 hours and 20 minutes,
at the rate our government
is spending it.
While this thought is still fresh in our brain...
let's take a look at New Orleans .
It's amazing what you can learn with some simple division.
Mary Landrieu (D)
is presently asking Congress for
250 BILLION DOLLARS
to rebuild New Orleans .. Interesting number...
what does it mean?
Well.... if you are one of the 484,674 residents of New Orleans
(every man, woman, and child)
you each get $516,528.
Or... if you have one of the 188,251 homes in
New Orleans , your home gets $1,329,787..
Or... if you are a family of four...
your family gets $2,066,012.
Washington , D. C.
Are all your calculators broken??
Building Permit Tax
CDL License Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Federal Income Tax (Fed)
Federal Unemployment Tax (FU TA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Pe rmit Tax
Hunting License Tax
IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Marriage License Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service charge taxes
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax (Truckers)
Recreational Vehicl e Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Vehicle License Registration T ax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax
(And to think, we left British Rule to avoid so many taxes)
STILL THINK THIS IS FUNNY?
Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago...
and our nation was the most prosperous in the world.
We had absolutely no national debt...
We had the largest middle class in the world...
and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.
Can you spell 'politicians!'
And I still have to
I hope this goes around the
U S A
at least 100 times
What the heck happened?????
If you do not know--just ask me !
I do know.
In my lifetime, I have voted for both Democrats and Republicans.
Now, I have nothing against millionaires, but did you know that 40% of the House of Representatives and 60% of the members of the Senate are millionaires? Think about it! Know that only 1% of the American population are millionaires.
Most of my life I have known and voted for our Democratic Congressional representative - John Dingell.
John Dingell is one of the most honorable and honest man I have ever known. He is the longest serving representative in the House of Representatives in DC.
Recently, the Democratic leadership stripped him of his position as chairman of the Energy and Commerce committee.
One of the villains in this despicable act was Henry Waxman of California who represents rich liberal Democrats of Malibu. He went after John Dingell because John at one time voted against one of Waxman's Pet Environmental groups. The other villain is speaker of the House, Democrat Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco another Bastian of liberal democratic voters.
In fact Nancy Pelosi campaigned for Lynn Rivers from Ann Arbor Michigan when River's challenged John Dingell for his seat in congress few years ago.
So when these two came to power under president Obama they made sure to strip John of his chairmanship. However, because of their revengeful act they tried to make amends by making John “Emeritus” chairman on Energy and Commerce. Liberal translation "Nice Title, No Power"
Shame on the Democratic Party and powerful labor unions for letting this happen. Let me say this again, John Dingell is one of the most honest and honorable representatives in the US house of Representatives.