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Eastwood's Iwo JimaCritical Engagements with Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima$
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Anne Gjelsvik and Rikke Schubart

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231165655

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231165655.001.0001

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Flags of their Stepfathers?

Flags of their Stepfathers?

Race and Culture in the Context of Military Service and the Fight for Citizenship

(p.57) Flags of their Stepfathers?
Eastwood's Iwo Jima

Martin Edwin Andersen

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the contributions of Native Americans and African Americans in the American forces since the founding of the United States. Taking the experiences of flag raiser Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian from the Gila River reservation in Arizona, as its point of departure, the essay explores issues of race and culture in the context of military service and the fight for citizenship. In particular, it asks what military service meant for Native Americans and African Americans. It shows that World War II represented a major turning point for the status of both groups; however, while military service meant a potential integration into the larger American society and “a trial by fire to fight stereotypes” for the Indians, African Americans faced a more enduring racism. The integration of minorities in the armed forces proved a slow process, a reality that provides yet another perspective on the military’s role in constructing nation and identity.

Keywords:   race, Native Americans, African Americans, Ira Hayes, culture, military service, citizenship, World War II, racism, minorities

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