Uncommon Valor

Composite Drawing by Don Stewart

Uncommon Valor is a visual history of the United States Marine Corps. The drawing is based on Joe Rosenthal’s famous photograph of the second flag raising on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, on Feb. 23, 1945, and subsequent statues of the scene by sculptor Felix DeWeldon. The items collected in this picture depict a chronological progression of Marine history from 1775 to the present. Uniforms, weapons, vehicles (ground and amphibious transport, aircraft, tanks, etc.), badges, medals and insignia combine to tell a profound story of patriotism, dedication, discipline, innovation, and sense of purpose unique to the Marine Corps. In addition, many of the images in this drawing are iconographic, representing specific individuals, places and events relating to the development and activities of the USMC. Following De Weldon’s statue designs, the drawing is divided into specific areas, including a rectangular base with a central wreath, triangular mounds representing the mountaintop, and the six figures raising the flag (four of whom are readily visible). Each of these areas represents a period of time in Marine Corps history: The lower left section of the base details events from 1775 to 1900, the right side from 1900 to 1941. The middle portion of the base is similarly divided, with wooden sailing craft on the left, and metal construction to the right. This development in naval technology is echoed by the rigging from the tall ships, and the cargo nets used by Marines in later years to transfer to amphibious assault vehicles. Hats from a progression of Marine uniforms are arranged along the bottom of the picture, in chronological order. The pacific island campaigns of WWII are represented horizontally across the middle of the picture, above the NCO dress sword. At either end of this procession are boots and campaign hats, signifying the coastal MCR Depots at San Diego and Parris Island, as well as the three Marine Divisions headquartered at Camp Pendleton and Camp Lejeune. The Korean conflict is illustrated in the triangular area on the left; Viet Nam is shown on the right. The space between these two is taken up with expeditions to Grenada, Beirut, Panama, Somalia, and Kuwait. Campaigns in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan are shown in the flag raisers themselves, which are each built along different themes. The three standing Marines represent (L-R) Air, Sea, and Land. The crouched figure is composed of all three, in addition to the Musics, and the Silent Drill Platoon.
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