American Legion Post 84 Honors Iwo Jima Flag-Raising

March 3, 2023


Emma Hughes, 

Community Newsperson




About 50 veterans and guests attended Ira H. Hayes American Legion Post 84’s annual recognition of the 78th Iwo Jima Flag Raising Anniversary Feb. 25 at the Matthew B. Juan – Ira H. Hayes Veterans Memorial Park in Sacaton. It honored the six marines, including Community member Ira H. Hayes, who raised the U.S. flag atop Mt. Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945.


Post 84 was joined by the Ira Hayes Marine Corps League Detachment, San Carlos Apache Veterans Association, Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis and Community members for the gathering that also recognized what would have been Hayes’ centennial birthday on Jan. 12.


Gov. Lewis stressed the importance of honoring veterans and the significance of the anniversary, saying, “I’m honored to be able to play a small part in supporting all our Native veterans that have served and sacrificed and especially those that didn’t come back.” 


This year marked the return of an in-person event for the anniversary after it was canceled the previous two years due to COVID restrictions. Flags were raised to half-staff and wreaths were laid on the memorial monuments in the park followed by remarks from veterans about remembering those who have served and the sacrifices they made. 


Lancelot Lewis, Vietnam veteran and former commander of Post 84, shared the history of Hayes’ monument, which features stones from Mt. Suribachi around a bronze re-creation of the six marines raising the flag and a life-size statue of Hayes.


In 1988, Lewis helped create the memorial monuments to remember and honor Hayes and veterans. Since then, the flag-raising events have been celebrated at the park. 


Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of visitors from around the U.S. and Canada traveled to the Gila River Indian Community for the anniversary’s events, which Post 84 hopes to resume next year.


“Thank you for all your remarks, all the wonderful words that you brought to us, and all the people you represent,” said Bill Dixon, commander for Post 84.