SPOTLIGHT ON MARINE HEROES #9
Iwo Jima Eulogy by MajGen Graves Erskine
At the dedication of the Third Marine Division Cemetery on Iwo Jima in 1945, Major General Graves Erskine, Commanding General of the Third, made the following remarks:
"Only the accumulated praise of time will pay proper tribute to our valiant dead. Long after those who lament their immediate loss are themselves dead, these men will be mourned by the Nation. They are the Nation's loss!
There is talk of great history, of the greatest fight in our history, of unheard–of sacrifice and unheard–of courage. These phrases are correct, but they are prematurely employed. Victory was never in doubt. Its cost was.
The enemy could have displaced every inch of volcanic ash on this fortress with concrete pillboxes and blockhouses, which he nearly did, and still victory would not have been in doubt. What was in doubt in all our minds, was whether there would be any of us left to dedicate our cemetery at the end, or whether the last Marine would die knocking out the last Japanese gun and gunner.
Let the world count our crosses! Let the count them over and over. Then when they understand the significance of the fighting for Iwo Jima, let them wonder how few they are. We understand and we wonder—we who are separated from our dead by a few feet of earth; from death by inches and fractions of an inch. The cost to us in quality, one who did not fight side by side with those who fell, can never understand."
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