Ira Hayes gravesite
Ira Hayes
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, Virginia




Iwo Jima flag raising
Feb. 23, 1945. Ira Hayes at far left.
Ira Hayes in training
Ira Hayes, 19 years old,
training for parachute jumping.

Iwo Jima flag-raising postage stamp There was great public demand for a postage stamp commemorating the flag-raising photo, but the Post Office at first refused because of the long-standing rule that no living person could appear on a U.S. stamp. But Congress pushed for a stamp too, and the Post Office finally issued one in July, 1945. On the first day of issue, long lines of people waited at post offices around the country to buy the new stamp. For many years, it was the biggest selling stamp in U.S. postal history, with over 137 million sold.



The Ballad of Ira Hayes

Gather 'round me people and a story I will tell
About a brave young indian you should remember well
From the tribe of Pima indians, a proud and peaceful band
Who farmed the Phoenix valley in Arizona land

Down their ditches for a thousand years the sparklin' water rushed
'Til the white man stole their water rights and the runnin' water hushed
Now Ira's folks were hungry, and their farm grew crops of weeds
But when war came he volunteered, and forgot the white man's greed

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' indian
Or the marine who went to war

They started up Iwo Jima hill, two hundred fifty men
But only twenty-seven lived to walk back down again
And when the fight was over, and Ol' Glory raised
One of the men who held it high was the indian Ira Hayes

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' indian
Or the marine who went to war

Now Ira returned a hero, celebrated throughout the land
He was wined and speeched and honored, everybody shook his hand
But he was just a Pima indian; no money, no crops, no chance
At home nobody cared what he'd done — and when did the indians dance?

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' indian
Or the marine who went to war

Then Ira started drinkin' hard; jail was often his home
They'd let him raise and lower the flag, like you'd throw a dog a bone
He died drunk early one morning, alone in a land he'd fought to save
Two inches of water in a lonely ditch was the grave for Ira Hayes

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' indian
Or the marine who went to war

Yes, call him drunken Ira Hayes, but his land is still as dry
And his ghost is lyin' thirsty in the ditch where Ira died

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' indian
Or the marine who went to war

—Peter LaFarge
    Recorded by Johnny Cash in 1964,
    and Bob Dylan on his 1973 album, Dylan.