The flag is still flying proudly from the iconic statue at the Marine Corps Base Quantico, but for now, it’s a smaller flag.
The stone statue of Marines raising the American flag at Iwo Jima — based on the iconic Joe Rosenthal photograph, and a replica of a similar statue at the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington County — includes a flag pole where a real flag flutters, marking the entrance to the Marine Corps base. The statue suffered slight damage in a recent storm, and to preserve it from further harm, the Marines swapped the standard flag for a lighter one.
Last weekend, the area was hit by sleet and snow, the latest storm after a long winter full of them. Knowing that the statue can crack in rough weather, a Marine checked on it Monday and found damage to the stone hand that holds the flagpole, said 2nd Lt. Matt Rojo, a spokesman at the base.
Rojo said the Marines quickly took down the flag and found a smaller one to prevent the motion of the flag waving in the wind from making the crack worse. At this time, he said, the damage is slight. It cannot be seen from the road, where drivers heading into the base pass it every day, or from the path in front of the statue where tourists stop for photographs.
“You’d need to be up on a cherry picker actually looking at it,” Rojo said. “It’s just something where if you don’t fix it right now, it could deteriorate and it could get worse.”
Rojo said that the Marines will hire a contractor to repair the statue. He does not know how much it will cost, but he knows that similar work has been done before — winter weather has taken its toll on the statue in at least one other year in the past decade.