1975 10¢ Continental Marines
Bicentennial Military Services
Issue Date: July 4, 1975
City: Washington, DC
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Photogravure
On June 14, 1775, the Second Continental Congress adopted a motion to create ten companies of infantry that became the Continental Army.
On October 13, 1775, the Second Continental Congress authorized the formation of a Navy, which was initially composed of two ships with ten guns each.
On November 10, 1775, Congress formed two battalions of Marines to fight at sea and on the adjoining beaches.
The Militia, today called the National Guard, was America’s original armed force against Great Britain, fighting at Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill.
Opening Of USMC War Memorial
On November 10, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower presided over the dedication and official opening of the United States Marine Corps War Memorial, also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial.
The history of the memorial is very closely aligned with the famous image that stands as its centerpiece, the flag-raising at Iwo Jima. That iconic flag-raising occurred on February 23, 1945.
The battle of Iwo Jima had begun days earlier on February 19, with an amphibious assault on Iwo Jima. The US troops fought their way to Mount Suribachi and captured it on February 23. Earlier in the day, the troops raised a small flag on the mountain’s peak, but an officer wanted them to raise a larger flag. So a small group of Marines climbed to the top of the mountain and raised the much larger flag. Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal was with the Marines and took the now-famous picture.
Sometime after the photo was taken, sculptor and sailor Felix de Weldon saw it and was so moved. He created a scale model in a single weekend. Weldon believed the sculpture could be part of a larger memorial to the US Marines and worked with architect Horace W. Peaslee to design the memorial. They created a proposal and presented it to Congress, but there wasn’t available funding because the war was still going. Two years later, with the war over, a federal foundation was established to raise funds for the project. A commission was then awarded in 1951, and work was able to begin. In all, the project would cost $850,000.
To begin the project, De Weldon created a full-size plaster model, with figures that stood 32 feet tall. Two of the flag raisers were still alive, so they posed for De Weldon and he modeled their faces in clay. For the other soldiers, he used all available photos to accurately capture their likenesses.
Once de Weldon completed the plaster model, it was taken apart (into 108 pieces) and then cast in bronze. The casting process took nearly three years. Once completed, the statues were reassembled and escorted to Arlington where they were bolted and welded together from the inside through a trap door. Once assembled, the figures lifted a 60-foot bronze flagpole with a real cloth flag. Standing at 78 feet tall and weighing 100 tons, it’s the largest bronze statue in the world. The statue’s base includes the names and dates of important battles from the start of the Marine Corps in 1775.
The memorial was dedicated on November 10, 1954, which was also the 179th anniversary of the Marine Corps’ founding in 1775. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Vice President Richard Nixon were among the presiding officials. Seven years later President John F. Kennedy issued a proclamation that the flag should fly at full mast atop the memorial 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Click here to read sculptor de Weldon’s remarks at the memorial dedication.
Click here to view video from the initial flag raising at the memorial.
The Bicentennial Series
The U.S. Bicentennial was a series of celebrations during the mid-1970s that commemorated the historic events leading to America’s independence from Great Britain. The official events began on April 1, 1975, when the American Freedom Train departed Delaware to begin a 21-month, 25,338-mile tour of the 48 contiguous states. For more than a year, a wave of patriotism swept the nation as elaborate firework displays lit up skies across the U.S., an international fleet of tall-mast sailing ships gathered in New York City and Boston, and Queen Elizabeth made a state visit. The celebration culminated on July 4, 1976, with the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
The U.S.P.S. issued 113 commemorative stamps over a six-year period in honor of the U.S. bicentennial, beginning with the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission Emblem stamp (U.S. #1432). As a group, the Bicentennial Series chronicles one of our nation’s most important chapters, and remembers the events and patriots who made the U.S. a world model for liberty.