The U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, has been renovated just in time for the 75th anniversary of the famous flag raising above Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima.
The Japanese island, located in the Pacific Ocean between the U.S. territory of Guam and the Japanese mainland, was the location of a five-week World War II battle during the spring of 1945.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower dedicated the memorial, which depicts 32-foot-high figures raising a 60-foot flagpole, on Nov. 10, 1954. The memorial has been undergoing renovation since the fall of 2017 thanks to a $5.37 million donation from Carlyle Group founder and philanthropist David Rubenstein. Rubenstein is also the chairman of the Kennedy Center’s board of trustees. He made the donation in honor of his father’s service in the Marine Corps.
The National Park Service supervised the memorial’s renovation, which included making new engravings, cleaning and waxing the sculpture, brazing bronze seams and re-gilding the letters and inscriptions along its base.
The Park Service’s Web page dedicated to the project shows a series of before-and-after photos showing the rehabilitation of the sculpture. Before the project, the statues were discolored and pitted. Now they are smooth and show very little wear.
In a statement on the Park Service’s website, Rubenstein noted the importance of maintaining the memorial as fewer and fewer World War II veterans remain able to tell their stories, and applauded the renovation.
“The conservators and workers did a wonderful job returning the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial to its original beauty. I am humbled to be a part of refurbishing the memorial and honoring those who gave the last full measure of devotion for America,” Rubenstein said.
About 1.5 million people visit the memorial each year.