As you enter the grounds of the memorial, the coach driver should drive around statue slowly. Ask the students to keep their eyes on the flag: it looks like it is being raised. After driving once around, students should get off the bus and walk to the edge of the memorial. Ask them to examine the memorial up close, especially looking at the flag and the men raising it up on Mount Suribachi.
After the students have an opportunity to examine the memorial, gather the students where they can continue to look at the flag raising. Why might the architect have purposefully created such an optical illusion? How did the "flag-raising" make them feel? Why?
Give the students some background information about the six Marines raising the flag: Harlon Block, 21 years old; Michael Strank, 24; Franklin Sousley, 20 -- each killed in action over next few days -- Rene Gagnon, 18; Ira Hayes, 22; and John Bradley, 22, a Navy corpsmen -- each of whom survived. A first flag raised was smaller and replaced by these 6 men. When was it raised on February 23 1945 on Mt. Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima in Japan, Joseph Rosenthal took the prize-winning photograph upon which the statue, designed by Felix deWeldon, is based.
The teacher or tour guide should have a flag for each group of 6 students. In these small groups, each student should choose one of the 6 men to represent. Where are they in the raising of the flag? How do you think he is feeling? Imagine the sounds and smells of the battlefield. As a group, the student should "raise" their flag, and someone should take their a photo. If possible, ask the students to examine their picture? Is there anything "new" revealed? How did they feel as they "raised" their flag?
Why do you think this photograph was chosen as the model for the US Marine Corps War Memorial?