Iwo Jima is in the Pacific Ocean between the Northern Marianas Islands and Japan, and it was the site of one of the most horrific battles of World War II in 1945, starting on February 19 and ending on March 26, 1945. On day 5 (February 23, 1945) of this 35-day battle, six U.S. soldiers raised the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, the tallest point on Iwo Jima. A famous photo of this action was used as the model for the Marine War Memorial in Washington, DC.
The Seven Seas Voyager cruise ship spent a few hours off Iwo Jima, during which we had a commemoration ceremony to honor the veterans onboard the ship as well as all who have fought for freedom around the world. During the ceremony, the passengers stood in silence as we listened to "America the Beautiful" and "God Bless America" as the ship's bow faced Mount Suribachi. One of the musicians played taps, and we watched the American flag blow in the breeze on the ship's forecastle.
The Seven Seas Voyager was on the third leg of a world cruise, sailing from Sydney to Shanghai.
The summit of Mt. Suribachi is the location of the famous World War II photo of soldiers raising the American flag on day 5 of the 35-day battle of Iwo Jima.
Black Lava Beaches of Iwo Jima
The black beaches of Iwo Jima are lava ash rather than sand. The consistency caused the American troops, weighted down with gear, great difficulty during the invasion. Like the beaches at Normandy, these look so quiet and peaceful today--it's difficult to imagine what it must have been like in 1945.
Iwo Jima, Japan Military Base
Japan has a military base on Iwo Jima, and visitors are not allowed. The Seven Seas Voyager circled the island, but we did not get to go ashore.
Mount Suribachi and Iwo Jima, Japan
The photo of soldiers raising the American flag at Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima during the battle of Iwo Jima is one of the most famous war photos ever made. The island is mostly flat except for this tall hill at one end.
Seven Seas Voyager Off the Coast of Iwo Jima
Although the Seven Seas Voyager did not dock at Iwo Jima, the cruise ship got very close and those onboard could reflect on the battles that took place on the tiny island during World War II.
Iwo Jima Battle Commemoration Ceremony on the Seven Seas Voyager
The Seven Seas Voyager stopped off the coast of Iwo Jima and the cruise director led a moving tribute to those who had fought in all wars for freedom. Some of the cruise passengers were veterans of World War II.
Remnants of Old Ships at Iwo Jima, Japan
These old ship hulls are among the few reminders of the horrific battle of Iwo Jima in 1945.