Seventy-five years ago, six Marines raised the American flag at Iwo Jima, and now a group of Racine veterans is trying to build its own memorial of the iconic image.
"For all Marines, it's a symbol of the strength and dedication to the ultimate point that Marines make to help protect the country," said United States Marine Corps veteran John Capriotti.
Capriotti leads up the Iwo Jima Memorial Midwest Project, which is fundraising to build a replica memorial about 40% of the size of the monument in Washington, D.C. It will stand in Pritchard Park in Racine.
Robert Bricker, who restored the original monument in 2017, will sculpt the 20,000-lb statue. This monument will have the faces of the two Marines who were mistakenly left out of the original memorial.
"It will actually be the first Iwo Jima monument that's true to the Rosenthal photograph with the two new faces on it," Capriotti said.
Racine County is home to about 12,500 veterans, and Racine County Veteran Service Officer and Marine Corps Iraq veteran Zach Zdroik says that's the fourth highest in the state.
For 74 years, Racine has recreated the historic scene in its living memorial during its annual Fourth of July parade. Veterans like Nicholas Fasulo hold the flag still for at least two hours.
"Representing that is the highest honor that you can achieve in my eyes," said Fasulo, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq.
It's a tribute organizers hope to attract not only veterans, but the entire community from across the state, Midwest and country. They hope future generations can always remember their service and sacrifice.
"For the schools to come here and see this, and they can have an understanding and respect and honor the World War II people who died," Zdroik said.
Organizers expect the project to cost around $4 million and they are aiming for a two-year timeline.
"Thanking veterans is really part of what Racine's all about," Capriotti said.