Original Iwo Jima Monument in forefront of Veterans Day Parade en route to Bonhams

Navajo Code Talkers honored during parade

NEW YORK — Bonhams in New York will exhibit the original Iwo Jima Monument at The 590 Madison Avenue Sculpture Garden adjoining its auction galleries, after the sculpture is featured in the Nov. 11 Veterans Day Parade. The large-scale, bronze-coated, cement and plaster piece was the 1945 World War II forerunner of the magnificent United States Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va., and is being offered for private sale by Bonhams until its inclusion in the Feb. 22, 2013, World War II: the Pacific Theater auction; the monument will be placed on special exhibition at The 590 Madison Avenue Sculpture Garden between Fifth and Madison Avenues, New York City from Nov. 11-30, 2012.

Color postcard photograph of Iwo Jima Memorial at Arlington, 5 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches. Boldly signed and inscribed in blue ink, adding sentiment and date “1964” beside image. Sold for $100 at Signature House auction, November 2007. Photo courtesy Signature House/LiveAuctioneers.com

This original Iwo Jima Monument was created by Felix de Weldon to commemorate the raising of an American flag by five Marines and a Navy Corpsman on Mount Suribachi as Allied Forces struggled to capture the Japanese-held island in February of 1945. News photographer Joe Rosenthal caught the scene, and his Pulitzer Prize-winning image inspired de Weldon, who worked all night while the battle still ensued to model a wax sculpture to present to the Chiefs-of-Staff; de Weldon’s maquette was the basis for his original, large-scale Iwo Jima Monument situated outside the then Old Navy Department Building from 1945 to 1948.

The Iwo Jima Monument became a symbol of the war in the Pacific and was adopted by the American government to promote the war effort and the sale of war bonds. This artistic image paid off half of America’s World War II debt!

Rodney Hilton Brown, the current owner of this original Iwo Jima Monument, is a military collector and historian, as well as a generous lender and benefactor through his New York City-based War Museum, which he founded in 1983. He was a good friend of de Weldon, and acquired and restored the sculpture. The piece was displayed at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, New York City, as an integral part of its Iwo Jima exhibition from 1995 until the restoration of the aircraft carrier necessitated its removal in 2007. His restoration and exhibition of this Iwo Jima Monument earned him recognition as an Honorary New York City Marine.

Four Navajo Code Talkers will accompany the original Iwo Jima Monument on the first float in the Veterans Day Parade. Following the 10 am opening ceremony at the Eternal Light Monument at Fifth Avenue at 24th Street, the Parade will proceed up Fifth Avenue at 11 am and will arrive at The 590 Madison Avenue Sculpture Garden between Fifth and Madison Avenues, where the sculpture will be on view through Nov. 30. Bonhams COO Patrick Meade and Rodney Hilton Brown will pay tribute to the Navajo Code Talkers at a 4 pm ceremony in the Sculpture Garden. Malcolm Barber, Bonhams CEO, “considers it a singular distinction for Bonhams to be able to honor icons of American military history.” Brown will present an original Builders Model cast of the sculpture to the National Navajo Code Talkers Museum and Veterans Center, Window Rock, Ariz.

This article originally appeared in Antique Trader magazine

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Navajo Code Talkers are credited with hastening the end of World War II in the Pacific and saving countless lives. The secret code of young Navajo men, combining native terms associated with specialized or commonly-used military language and with representations of alphabet letters, was indecipherable to Japanese forces and remains the only unbroken code in modern military history. They served in the US Marines in every Pacific assault from 1942 to 1945 and with the Marine Raiders and Parachute Battalions. Bill Toledo and Albert Smith, Navajo Code Talkers who served at the Battle of Iwo Jima, will appear in the Parade and at the ceremonial event.

This original Iwo Jima Monument will launch Bonhams themed auction, World War II: the Pacific Theater, in New York, Feb. 22, 2013. The sale will comprise a chronological overview of the American war in the Pacific, spanning the 1941 Japanese strike on Pearl Harbor, through the island campaigns and submarine and naval warfare to the War’s end with the United States’ atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Rodney Hilton Brown will donate a portion of the proceeds from the auction sale of the first Iwo Jima Monument and his World War II: the Pacific Theater auction collection to the Marine Corps – Law Enforcement Foundation.

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