Charlie was keen to have a trip in the RV as he would like to have a road trip himself, Pam needs some convincing, so Saturday morning Charlie sat up front with Tom as we headed for their lake house. On the way we stopped at The National Museum of the Marine Corps. This proved to be a much more interesting stop than we had imagined. The building is designed to look like the iconic photo of “Raising the Flag” on Iwo Jima.
A docent suggested we start our tour by viewing a film of the landing of 65,000 marines on Iwo Jima with commentary of the plans to take the island. We lucked out in meeting a survivor (considered a treasure by the marines) 84 year old Frank Mathew who was one of the marines. What a delight speaking and listening to Frank tell his story; he was 18 and a half years at the time of the assault, this was his first assignment as a marine, there were many of photographs of the landing also. The was docent tipped us to ask Frank about playing the organ for various religious services on Iwo Jima; he was delighted to recount playing the little portable organ with members of the different denominations at his shoulder advising him what and when to play. His proudest moment was when he was “ordered” to play the Star Spangled Banner as the “second” flag was being raised.
Another docent gave us the scoop on the famous photo of “Raising the Flag” it turns out that that was the second flag to be raised - the first was a household size flag and not very visible. The Commanding Officer had a large flag and he sent a Lieutenant, four marines and a photographer to raise the bigger flag. The marines had no pole but found an old water pipe close by, they attached the flag to the pole and the photographer takes photos as they raise it. Afterwards the photographer takes a posed photo with about 10 marines and sends his film to Hawaii to be developed. Later he is asked if he had the Marines pose with the flag and answered “yes” he was thinking of the photo with the 10 marines. It was not until he finally saw the developed photos that he realized that he had taken the photo that became the historic “Raising the Flag”. Great stories of sacrifice, heroism and history made – an excellent Museum and a must visit.
Charlie and Pam’s lake house is beautifully set among trees on the shore of Lake Anna in a very nice gated community. As it is off-season we had lots of room near the boat ramp to park “Rover.” The yard was under a cover of leaves so we all took a rake and cleared the lawn and driveway – the next day the yard was hidden under leaves again. Pam arrived Sunday and we were all invited to a neighbor’s house for dinner where we met many of their friends and had a most enjoyable night.
Monday Charlie and Pam drove us to Fredericksburg the scene Fredericksburg Battle. Once again the casualties on both sides were terrible and, the dead and wounded were left behind for the locals to bury or treat. On the outskirts of town there’s a large cemetery with thousands of unknown soldiers buried up to 8 to the grave, so sad to see. Charlie led us on a walking tour around the town; the main part of town has brick buildings most of which have multiple bullet holes from the time of the civil war. The day was lovely and warm – a tee shirts kind of day.
Tuesday and it was time for us to be on our way so we said “good bye” to our wonderful hosts promising to return and rake the leaves next Fall/Autumn.