WHEN I FIRST saw the Iwo Jima War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia 1998, it instantly reminded me of our own Tugu Negara (National Monument). Little wonder, because I learnt later that both the monuments were done by the same sculptor, Felix de Weldon, an Austrian.
Officially known as the Marine Corps War Memorial, the monument of five US Marines raising a flag was sculpted in 1954 based on a photograph taken by American photographer Joe Rosenthal on 23rd February 1945 during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. The photograph named “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” won the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in that year of 1945.
When Malaysia’s first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman visited the US in 1960, he was reportedly inspired by the Iwo Jima War Memorial and met with Felix to design a similar monument. Our National Monument was officially unveiled on 8th February 1966. The bronze monument depicts a group of soldiers with one holding the Malaysian flag, to commemorate our fallen soldiers during the Japanese occupation in WWII and the Malayan Emergency.