Iwo Jima Monument May Get a Makeover

Iconic memorial may be showing its age

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Marine Corps War Memorial Foundation claims the Iwo Jima statue and its surrounding grounds needs to be refurbished from wear and tear, but the National Park Service disagrees. (Published Tuesday, Jan 25, 2011)

    One of the country’s most iconic images may be getting a makeover. The Marine Corps War Memorial -- often referred to as the Iwo Jima Memorial -- is in need of a little sprucing, according to a memorial foundation.

    The memorial, located in Arlington, Va., depicts the flag-raising by five Marines and a sailor on Mount Suribachi in 1945 on the island of Iwo Jima. The larger than life-sized bronze statue is based on a photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal. It is almost 60 years old.

    According to a Marine Corps news release, the statue’s original finish is faded.

    “The bronze should not be brown,” James Donovan, the Marine Corps War Memorial Foundation’s executive director, said in the release. “This bronze is supposed to be a Marine Corps green.”

    The foundation said in the release that some of the granite panels are coming loose, and there are cracks and water accumulations in the structure.  The National Park Service, however, told NBC Washington that just one of the approximately 30 panels around the base of the memorial has subsided about an inch.

    National Park Service spokesman Bill Line said the memorial is in very good condition.

    "Back in 2005, the National Park Service conducted and completed a more than $3.5 million renovation project at the Marine Corps Memorial. That included renovation of all the panels which I recognize are in question here," Line said. "That included full cultural and historic analysis of the condition of the entire memorial. The memorial’s condition is in very, very good condition."

    According the Marine Times, the Marine Corps War Memorial Foundation wants to partner with the National Park Service to repair the monument.

    However, Line said no agreement has been reached.

    "There is nothing in writing," he said. "There is nothing in place other than just talk, verbal conversations about them wanting to be a partner organization."

    The foundation said it also hopes to improve the experience of visiting the memorial. There are plans for improvements to restroom facilities and eventually a reception center staffed with volunteers.

    But Line questions the need of those enhancements.

    "We would want to see why there is a need for that, and why government money and taxpayers' dollars in a tight economy would have to be spent on that sort of stuff," Line said. "Having and wanting stuff is great, but having to pay for it is another (matter)."

    The Marine Times explained that the memorial is special to tourists as well as veterans. On the granite base, the names and dates of every major Marine Corps engagement since Nov. 10, 1775, are engraved.