Flags of Our Fathers
I view James Bradley's account of the Battle of Iwo Jima as his way of articulating his quest to illuminate the period of history which immortalized his father, transformed six strangers into brothers, and unified a nation. In Flags of Our Fathers, Bradley expands upon the lessons taught to him during his high school and college careers. It was these accounts which motivated Bradley to want to know more about the determination, fear, and sense of victory felt by his father and the five other flag raisers. Bradley takes 1/400th of a second from history and uses it to chronicle six lifetimes.
James Bradley, the author, is the son of John "Doc" Bradley, a Navy corpsman who was wounded in both legs during the Battle of Iwo Jima. James was proud of the fact that his father had served in World War II and chose to further his interests by obtaining his degree in East Asian history from the University of Wisconsin. In addition, Bradley also studied at various universities, including the University of Notre Dame and Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan. In my opinion, a major factor in Bradley's motivation to write his book came from his own sense of duty to the men who had served their country so valiantly, especially his father, Doc.
The process of researching the book was not short-lived. Bradley wanted to make sure that his book gave its readers a complete picture of what the six servicemen were like prior to the war, the way in which the war bonded them together, and how the survivors managed to go on with their lives. In order to gain this knowledge, Bradley conducted interviews with the families of the flag raisers along with over 300 World War II veterans.
As previously mentioned, the battle of Iwo Jima proved to be the occurrence which brought together six diverse men. The book cites the background of each flag raiser separately and discusses the vast differences in their backgrounds. While you wouldn't generally expect an oil worker from Texas, a dairy farmer from Wisconsin, a coal mining Pennsylvanian, a New England factory worker, a mid-western tobacco farmer, and an Arizona Indian to ever have a common thread which would bond them together, the experience of this battle allowed them to overcome their differences.
After the death of his father, Bradley and his family discovered three boxes of his father's Navy memorabilia. Doc Bradley was not accustomed to speaking about the events during the war. It was only after his death that his family learned of his heroic actions. Bradley wanted his father and the other flag raisers to be more than simply just remembered. He thought that their accomplishment should be a beginning instead of an ending. To illustrate this, Bradley established and is currently president of The Sons of Iwo Jima Foundation. The purpose of which is to foster continued dialogue and understanding between the United...