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Iwo Jima flag-raising ceremony set for Feb. 20

By Staff | Feb 12, 2011

A ceremony for the survivors of Iwo Jima is planned for Sunday, Feb. 20, at Eco Park in Cape Coral.
Organizer Gary Bowler said the importance of these ceremonies grows with each passing year, as there are fewer and fewer survivors.
“You should hear some of their stories,” Bowler said. “It just slips into history and people don’t remember. We lost 4,000 in that battle … people forget the sacrifices these young guys made. We have to remember where we came from.”
A Marine who fought in Vietnam, Bowler said the monuments at Eco Park are vital to the entire community, not only those who served in the various campaigns the monuments represent.
The Iwo Jima monument has fallen into severe disrepair over the years, a sight that’s as frustrating as it is sad to Bowler.
“This year’s ceremony is really important because we went in front of the City Council and they agreed to help us renovate the monument,” Bowler said.
Cape Coral City Council unanimously approved financial help to repair the Iwo Jima statue on Dec. 14, committing roughly $35,000 to the project.
The community has also provided help, as the Craig Fuller family has established a fund with the Cape Coral Community Foundation with a balance of more than $48,000, and a fund has also been established by Boots Tolles to maintain the statue once it’s repaired, making a $5,000 donation to get it going.
Bowler said he hasn’t received any further information about the status of the repairs.
The city did not put the work out with a Request for Proposal, or an RFP, according to spokeswoman Connie Barron. It’s also unclear what actual scope of work is needed to repair the statue, and the time frame in which it will be restored.
Barron wrote that the city’s Parks and Recreation Department has taken some proposals, and that “3 – 4 people” were reviewing the proposals.
The unidentified group which is reviewing the proposals is close to making a choice, but Parks and Rec Director Steve Pohlman was not ready to talk about it publicly.
Bowler said he was a bit frustrated with the process thus far, but looks forward to the day when the statue recaptures its former glory.
The statue is only one of three condensed copies of the original at Arlington Cemetery, with the other two placed at Quantico, Va., and on Parris Island, S.C.
Bowler said the ceremony will have public figures, including the mayor, along “with some surprises.”
He added that he doesn’t know how many of the 38 or so survivors he has contact with will be there on the Feb. 20, but it will still be a good opportunity to have some one-on-one contact with true heroes, and true American history.
Bowler said, “I really want people to show up, hear these stories, talk to these survivors and pass this history on.”
The Commemoration of the Flag Raising on Iwo Jima is Feb. 20, 11 a.m., at Eco Park. More information is at 549-2822.