Flags of Our Fathers Study Guide

Chapter 14 - Myths

The scenery and the timeframe changes in this chapter, going to Antigo, Wisconsin, where James Bradley grew up. His father, Jack Bradley never talked about the events that transpired in Iwo Jima, most likely because of what had happened to his buddy, Iggy. After Jack returns from the war, he marries his childhood sweetheart, Elizabeth Van Gorp. Seven years after getting married and around the same time as James Bradley turned one, Jack bought a funeral home. James was the fourth of eight children, all of whom did their part in making sure the household ran in order. Jack Bradley becomes one of the most respected citizens of Antigo, being a board member in several corporations and showing great compassion for those who lost their loved ones and mourned at his funeral home.

As he settles into family life, Jack makes it clear that he does not want to be known as a hero based on the association of the flag raising photograph. He avoids taking in phone calls from people who want to interview him. He has a great distrust for the press after how they covered the battle in Iwo Jima. He thinks that the real heroes are the ones who died in battle, as well as all of the Marines who fought. He didn’t want to be singled out just because he raised a flag.

Notes: The media played a big role in the distrust of Jack Bradley towards them. They depicted a false image for the American populace to devour during the war. Jack’s humility is also shown with how he considered everyone who fought at Iwo Jima as heroes.

Chapter 15 – Coming Home

Mothers all over the country were anxious. They were about to hear horrible news about how their sons will never come back home from Iwo Jima, including Martha Strank and Belle Block. The Treasury Department starts devising plans on creating a Seventh Bond Tour. Bond tours are fund raising trips that happen across the country, wherein citizens are asked to donate some money for the war effort. Six bond tours have already happened, and they were nervous that people would be more reluctant in donating to a seventh one. The Photograph (Bradley’s description of the image from the flag raising) is used to intensify the publicity of the bond tour.

President Roosevelt orders the Marine headquarters to send the six soldiers in the photo back home so they can participate in the Seventh Bond Tour. Upon hearing the news, Ira Hayes threatens to kill Rene Gagnon if he gets named as one of the six men. Rene agrees to keep the fact a secret and travels alone to Washington D.C. However, he gets pressured at the Marine Corps Headquarters and reluctantly reveals Ira to be one of the men. On April 8th, newspapers reveal the identities of the flag raisers and misidentify Harlon Block as Hank Hansen. Afterwards, Goldie, Franklin Sousley’s mother, discovers that her son died in battle.

On April 12th, Rene was set to have a parade done in his honor, however, President Roosevelt dies. Afterwards, Ira and Jack arrive in Washington D.C. Ira corrects the misidentification on The Photograph regarding Harlon Block during his debriefing at the Marine Barracks. However, an officer has told him to not say anything about it. Ira gets upset about being ordered to lie, but keeps quiet about it. The three remaining flag raisers are officially introduced to the newly seated President Truman and get honored in The Senate. Later that evening, Sam Raybun, Speaker of the House, introduced the three boys to a standing ovation at The Griffith Stadium after throwing the first pitch. On the same day, Joe Rosenthal lands in Guam and gets interviewed. He was asked if he staged the photo in Iwo Jima, to which he answers with “Sure,” not knowing which photograph the question was pertaining to. The rumors start spreading that Rosenthal staged the photograph. Time magazine starts fueling the rumors by broadcasting on their radio show about how the photograph was staged. Rosenthal demands an apology from Time, which he gets. However, the photograph will end up frustrating him in the future. While the Marines were still fighting in Iwo Jima, Time magazine publishes the photo on their front page on March 5th as if the battle has already been won.

Notes: Mothers play another great role in this chapter. The anxiety and the sadness of the mothers who found out that their sons won’t be returning home was very heartbreaking.

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