I am the veteran of the Iwo campaign who proposed donating the Iwo Jima statue to Sarasota. And I want to thank the Observer newspapers for your generous and thoughtful coverage of that effort, and make clear why it had to be abandoned.
I have carried the memory of what I witnessed on Iwo Jima all my life: heroism, blood and guts. We clearly knew what we were fighting for. Many of us came home and had successful careers. In our senior years, it is payback time. I serve on local arts and human services boards locally, for example, and support other charities in New York City, where I live part time.
But this is not about me. It is about what happened to our offer to donate the Iwo monument to Sarasota, which is beyond belief. Having received commitment from three commissioners to support it, we set about raising $1.5 million to buy the icon, move it here and build a plaza, complete with flower gardens and benches to be shared with our favorite sailor and nurse and enjoyed by Sarasotans and visitors alike.
Suddenly, our commissioners called for a vote we knew nothing about, using every excuse to kill the program. My team and I were speechless. The Iwo icon belongs on the bayfront, not in a cemetery. It is not about death; it is about life, the spirit of America, success and the costs of our freedom.
It is not about art, either. It is about patriotism. But there are people in this town who feel they can tell us what is and isn’t art and what we should and shouldn’t like. Who are they to tell us what our values should be? How many of them fought for the freedoms they enjoy?
Hello, Bradenton. Our town has a gift for you. Semper fi!
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