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The Akimel O'odham Warrior, World War II, and the Price of Heroism
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around August 1, 2023. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
IRA HAYES tells the story of Ira Hamilton Hayes from the perspective of a Native American combat veteran of the Vietnam generation. Hayes, along with five other Marines, was captured in Joe Rosenthal’s iconic photograph of raising the stars and stripes on Mount Suribachi during the battle for the Japanese Island of Iwo Jima. The photograph was the inspiration and model for the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington.
Between the time he helped raise that flag and his death—and beyond—he was the subject of more newspaper columns than any other Native person. He was hailed as a hero and maligned as a chronic alcoholic unable to take care of himself. IRA HAYES will explore these fluctuating views of Ira Hayes. It will reveal that they were primarily the product of American misconceptions about Native people, the nature of combat, and even alcoholism. Like most surviving veterans of combat, Ira did not think of himself as a heroic figure. There can be no doubt that Ira suffered from PTSD, which is a compound of survivor’s guilt, the shock of seeing death, especially of one’s friends, and the isolation brought on by feeling that no one could understand what he had been through. Ira’s life has been a subject of two motion pictures and a television drama. All these dramas sympathize with him, but ultimately fail to see his binge drinking as his way of temporarily escaping the melancholy, the rage he felt, his sense of betrayal, and the sheer boredom of peacetime.
IRA HAYES breaks apart the complexities of Ira’s short life in honor of all Native veterans who have been to war in the service of the United States. This is equally their story.
"Tom Holm deservedly looms large in the history of Indigenous peoples’ military service in the wars of the twentieth century. In his new book, IRA HAYES, Holm reintroduces us to the iconic individual in ‘The Photograph’ of the flag-raising on Mount Suribachi. Holm extricates Hayes from the trope of tragedy and the racist stereotype of the ‘drunken Indian’ into which his story was confined during his lifetime and in which it remained trapped since his death. Instead, a complex Ira Hayes comes to life in the long context of his Akimel O’odham culture and community, American colonialism and racism, his military service, and his likely suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This tour de force is, by turns, compelling, devastating, and intensely humanizing."—R. Scott Sheffield, Professor of History at University of the Fraser Valley and co-author of Indigenous Peoples and the Second World War: The Politics, Experiences and Legacies of War in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand