Iwo Jima: Hold onto the History

On January 16, 2019, Randolph-Macon Academy’s campus opened up to the public for a presentation given by Mr. Shayne Jarosz of the Iwo Jima Association of America. He came to speak within Melton Gymnasium about the Battle of Iwo Jima, and the importance of remembering this history, as the last of the Greatest Generation are leaving this world. The 74th Anniversary of the battle’s beginning will be on February 19. 

Mr. Shayne Jarosz of the Iwo Jima Association of American speaks to R-MA cadets, faculty, and staff, as well as members of the local community.

Mr. Jarosz is a veteran who served four years in the Marine Corps, then graduated from George Mason University with a history degree in 1989. He has 28 years of experience teaching history in Fairfax County. Joining the Iwo Jima Association of America in 2008 as Executive Director, and now heading the educational program, Mr. Jarosz has led tours with Military Historical Tours throughout Europe and the Pacific, including Guadalcanal, Guam, Saipan, Tinian, Korea, Vietnam, and last but certainly not least, Iwo Jima.

Every person and every institution in America are inextricably linked to those that came before, Mr. Jarosz stressed. R-MA has a ring donated in 2004 by Dr. Robert DeGise, who currently resides in Illinois. He graduated from R-MA in June of 1944, and not even a year later, he landed upon Iwo Jima with his class ring upon his finger. He remembers asking a buddy to send his ring to his mother if he was killed. Almost immediately after that, a mortar shell nearly killed them both – and we are very fortunate that they survived. A prime example of R-MA’s connection to the past, the ring is cherished and well taken care of. 

During his presentation, Mr. Jarosz passed around a box of black sand from from his recent trip to the island, to give each member of the audience a sense of what the beach felt like when the Marines landed.

The presentation was excellent, and stressed an important point that resonated with me. The last veterans of the Second World War are passing on. There won’t be any to speak to soon enough – and I’ve heard many a friend remark about having a grandfather who’d served during the war, but they had never spoken to him about it before he died. Mr. Jarosz personally remarked to me that it was impressive how much I knew about my grandfather’s service in the Second World War; he, too, had encountered many young men and women who hadn’t a clue what their grandparents had done. When they’re all gone, what will happen? Will we lose this history?

We certainly will, if we don’t ask our ancestors what they’ve gone through. This is applicable not only to the Second World War, but to everything we know. So please, learn from your parents, from your grandparents. They’ve lived lives that are well worth learning from.

You can view the entire presentation on the Royal Examiner’s website.