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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Sourdough Lyr Req: Drunken Ira? / Ballad of Ira Hayes (19) RE: Drunken Ira 30 Jun 01

Can't help you with the lyrics but the story is a very interesting one. Ira Hayes was a Pima Indian who took part in the famous flag raising on Mt. Surabachi, Iwo Jima. He and the others who are in the famous photograph who survived the battle were lionized, traveling around the US on hugely successful bond selling tours. They were courted by politicians, movie stars, the press, etc.

Hayes interest in being a celebrity was short-lived but he was needed to help raise money for the war. THe Iwo Jima heroes were very effecive selling bonds but Ira Hayes collapsed under the pressure and took up drinking in a bad way. His life went down hill and he died much too young.

Recently, new information has become generally available that may help to explain what happened to him. The famous flag-raising was actually the second that day. The first was seen by he soldiers and sailors involved in the battle for the island, one of the bloodiest in the Pacific. This was a Japanese home island and the Japanese were now fighting for their homeland. The first flag raising had cheered up the fighters. It had been an emotional moment during a terrible time. THe AMericans saw in the appearance of the flag that morning that the battle was nearing an end, theyw ere occupying the high ground. There was cheering, ships whistles sounded, etc.

The second flag raising was actualy somewhat of an anti-climax, the result of an officer wanting to get a larger flag on the mountain. No one paid much attention to it at the time. It was Joe Rosenthal's photo that made the difference. His powerful image made the earlier flag-raising irrelevant in the public mind. Hayes and the others (who were all combat soldiers) were being called heroes for something they knew was not heroic. If they could have received cheers for what they had really accomplished, the fighting they had endured, perhaps Ira Hayes would have fared better but I think he felt he was living under false pretenses and no one would let him tell the truth. No one wanted to hear the real story. He was forced to live a lie.


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