Saturday, January 12, 2013

Happy Birthday, Ira

Born today in 1923, Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian who was one of the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima - of the six, one of the three who survived the battle. After the war, almost certainly suffering from PTSD as well as survivor guilt, Hayes was unable to handle the public adulation on one hand and reservation life on the other, and he slowly drank himself to death. He's buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

"Let's say he had a little dream in his heart that someday the Indian would be like the white man — be able to walk all over the United States." (Rene Gagnon, fellow flag-raiser, at Hayes's funeral)

Call him 'drunken Ira Hayes',
He won't answer any more,
Not the whiskey-drinking Indian
Or the Marine who went to war.
           -Peter LaFarge

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