Rene Gagnon, he was Canadian.


Sassylassie
#1
I found this article on DND's website, I didn't know Rene Gagnon was of Canadian Blood. This story is rather sad, it's about those who were in the "Picture hoisting the flag at Iwo Jima".

By EARL McRAE

He didn't have the papers to prove it, no. But he had the blood. And the blood, he once suggested, was thicker than the papers.
In the late 1940s he told the Canadian magazine Liberty: "I'm an American on paper, but my parents were from Quebec. So, I have Canadian blood. If Canadians want to say a Canadian helped raise the flag on Iwo Jima, that's fine with me."
Rene Gagnon. Few people of recent generations realize his Canadian connection, nor will they in director Clint Eastwood's new heavily hyped movie Flags Of Our Fathers about the six U.S. soldiers who became instant legends after AP photographer Joe Rosenthal snapped their picture hoisting the Stars and Stripes atop Mount Suribachi on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima in what was America's bloodiest battle of WWII, more than 5,000 Marines killed.
The photograph is the most famous from the war, hailed for its dramatic symmetry and emotional impact, and was replicated on monuments at home, merchandise, and a U.S. postage stamp that became the biggest-selling of all time.
Three of the five Marines and one Naval corpsman were killed in action shortly after it was taken. The other three came home: John Bradley, Ira Hayes and Rene Gagnon. Bradley, right until his 1994 death, refused all interviews. He'd have family members tell reporters over the phone he was incommunicado fishing somewhere in Canada. He'd never been to Canada, he didn't fish.
In the Eastwood movie Ira Hayes, an American Indian, is portrayed by Canadian Adam Beach, an actor from Ottawa, who is also Native. The story of Ira Hayes is one of tragedy. A war hero, he came home and was treated like dirt. Because he was "just" an Indian. He took to the bottle and his saga was told in a movie starring Tony Curtis, and a song by Johnny Cash among others, The Ballad Of Ira Hayes.
But he was just a Pima Indian / No water, no crops, no chance. At home nobody cared what Ira'd done / And when did the Indians dance. He died drunk one mornin' / Alone in the land he fought to save. Two inches of water in a lonely ditch / Was the grave for Ira Hayes.
* * *
Americans honour their heroes, and an argument can be made that the same should be done by our own musicians and filmmakers on the life and times of Rene Gagnon, "Canadian," whose story was also one of sadness and tragedy, the result of the iconic photograph.
He was born in Manchester, New Hampshire, the only child of Henri Gagnon and Irenee Marcotte, French-Canadians who'd emigrated from Saint Luce, Quebec.
His parents divorced when he was an infant after Irenee caught Henri cheating. His mother would sometimes take him back to Canada to visit relatives. Rene quit high school after only two years to join his mother as a labourer in the local textile mill. In 1943, he signed up for war. He was shy and considered a "mama's boy."
In Rosenthal's photo of February 23, 1945, Gagnon is partially obscured by John Bradley. Pfc Rene Gagnon, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, was the youngest of the six, a boy of only 18. The day before the flag-raising, he'd written a letter home to his girlfriend Pauline (who later became his wife) saying:
"I kept the picture you sent me in my helmut (sic) -- the one in your evening dress."
When the gullible Gagnon returned to the States, the government and military exploited his fame. He was given small roles in two movies -- The Sands Of Iwo Jima starring John Wayne, and To The Shores Of Iwo Jima. Promises of greater fame and fortune were made to him. He was used, they didn't materialize. He became bitter, an alcoholic, worked at menial jobs, was fired from most of them, the last, sadly, on Memorial Day of 1978.
He died in October the next year of a heart attack. He was 53, a janitor at an apartment complex in Manchester. Shortly before he told a reporter: "I'm pretty well known in Manchester. When someone who doesn't know me is introduced to me, they say 'That was you in the photograph? What the hell are you doing here? If I was you, I'd have a good job and lots of money.' "
Rene Gagnon is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, and is honoured in a special room at the Wright Museum of WWII memorabilia in Wolfeboro, N.H.
Rene Gagnon, "Canadian blood."
 
cortex
#2
again ... so what?
 
CDNBear
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by cortexView Post

again ... so what?

Do you say things like that, just for attention, negative attention, being better then no attention at all?
Last edited by CDNBear; Oct 21st, 2006 at 03:09 PM..
 
cortex
#4
All at attention

No, then

better being

attention negative

attention just

that likes things

Say do

Say do
 
CDNBear
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by cortexView Post

All at attention

No, then

better being

attention negative

attention just

that likes things

Say do

Say do


Why do they call you cotex?
 
cortex
#6
because they are afraid
 
CDNBear
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by cortexView Post

because they are afraid

Of what?
 
cortex
#8
Of the ghost of Rene Gagnon....
 
Said1
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by cortexView Post

because they are afraid

Hey doll.

I have yet to be moved. Pass the word on to 'him' for me, will ya?
 
CDNBear
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by Said1View Post

Hey doll.

I have yet to be moved. Pass the word on to 'him' for me, will ya?

Is the under lying tone, that of not seeing the point that he was Cnadian or of the event? Or both?
 
Said1
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBearView Post

Is the under lying tone, that of not seeing the point that he was Cnadian or of the event? Or both?


Oh. You think you're 'him'. It's alright brother, at ease. It ain't you babe, no, no,no it ain't you. Babe.
 
CDNBear
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by Said1View Post

Oh. You think you're 'him'. It's alright brother, at ease. It ain't you babe, no, no,no it ain't you. Babe.

No I didn't think I was "him". I thought you were inferring something to the posted article.
 
cortex
#13
I fail to see the relevance of all this to the original post could you all please try and stay on topic please.
 
CDNBear
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by cortexView Post

I fail to see the relevance of all this to the original post could you all please try and stay on topic please.

Forget it, decent conversation must be foriegn to you.

Great article Sass, thanx for drawing our attention to it.
 
Sassylassie
#15
Thanks Bear, I thought it would be nice to honour a fallen soldier. A movie about these men is due out soon, I wanted to inform Canadians about the Canadian connection. Young Canadians are very disrespectful of those who have "Fallen or Gave all in the Great Wars", and Americans honour them. I admire the US for this.
 
CDNBear
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by SassylassieView Post

Thanks Bear, I thought it would be nice to honour a fallen soldier. A movie about these men is due out soon, I wanted to inform Canadians about the Canadian connection. Young Canadians are very disrespectful of those who have "Fallen or Gave all in the Great Wars", and Americans honour them. I admire the US for this.

As do I Sass, my only fear is that the movie will not do the events on Iwo Jima, justice. It's being done by good ol' Clint, so it might.

I wonder if they'll actually show, that the picture was posed, the photographer missed the original raising and asked if they would do it again. I'm thinking they won't. But none the less, that tid bit of info does not negate the sacrifices made on Iwo Jima (LWF).
 

Similar Threads

no new posts