Another chapter from: The Clarkives

By: Dr. Len Clark, Ph.D.

U.S. Marines raise the flag over Iwo Jima, February 23, 1945. (Photo Credit: Joe Rosenthal/AP)

Like you, blue and gold courses through my veins; especially on game days.

It’s in my DNA.

Celebrating the playing of football games on Saturdays and covering them as a journalist is a true labor of love, but football is only one small part of the University of Notre Dame although it is its greatest public relations vehicle.

At one time the phrase, “the sun never sets on the British empire” proved to be true and somewhere in the world the sun always shined brightly in British territory.  Today, the closest entity I know of to having a global footprint is, indeed, the University of Notre Dame with its global educational programs and alumni scattered worldwide.

The end of the British empire came in the years following World War II when British colonies became independent, about the same time that Notre Dame was determined to become the premier Catholic institution of higher learning and developed its vision for an international presence with its “Global Gateway” and educational centers located around the world.

Doing things in grand fashion is not uncommon at Notre Dame.  In fact, it is expected.  A glimpse into Notre Dame’s vision can be traced back to the 1920s.

In 1924, John H. Neeson, class of 1903 and then President of the Alumni Association, began Universal Notre Dame Celebrations as a universal meeting of all clubs on the same night. Neeson’s first “Universal Notre Dame Night,” in the form of a nationwide radio broadcast, highlighted the non-athletic achievements of the University’s alumni and friends and, moreover, for the broader American public. 

Today, they are conducted worldwide and include an international audience as 270 alumni clubs located globally participate.

 I love to hear stories like that about Notre Dame.  Stories of Notre Dame people doing interesting things; places where Notre Dame is making an impact, and about things that capture the true spirit of Notre Dame.

Some of my favorite stories are about copies of Notre Dame Magazine and recordings of the Notre Dame “Victory March”.  I have heard stories where the magazine and records of the Victory March were found in the most remote parts of the jungles of Southeast Asia.  They were brought there by Catholic missionaries who used them to “evangelize” their faith and their University, in addition to helping teach English.

Another favorite story of mine, one that I have first-hand knowledge of, is about a Notre Dame person you probably never hear of.  So grab a cup and let me tell you about it.

In the spring of 2000, I was on campus as a guest lecturer in Karen Heisler’s media class.  After class, I walked over to the bookstore and learned that a book discussion was going to take place later that evening with the author Jim Bradley on his book “Flags of Our Fathers”.

Jim is the son of John Bradley, a Navy corpsman in World War II, who was one of the individuals that helped raise the U.S. Flag on Iwo Jima that was immortalized in the photo by Joe Rosenthal.

I made sure I would be there early to get a good seat. 

Vice President Emeritus Edmund “Ned” Joyce had the same idea as me and we chatted before the talk began. 

Most of you may know the story of the flag bearers and have seen the iconic image of the flag being raised on Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima.

Actually, it was the second raising of the flag.  The first flag was too small to be seen.  So a second flag raising was ordered.

The second flag is the most famous of the two and it has a Notre Dame connection.

Marine Corporal Robert Leader, who would later become a professor of art at Notre Dame, was part of a platoon on Mount Suribachi and found a section of pipe that was used as the flag pole in the famous raising. 

He found it in a shell crater.

He went down to retrieve the pipe and then handed it up to the detail.  While he was crawling out of the crater, he saw the flag being raised.

Little did he know the role he would play in U.S. military history.

And that’s a little story about a Notre Dame connection to history, one of many.

It’s little stories like these that make the days leading up to the next kickoff go by a little quicker.

Do you know an interesting Notre Dame story ?  If you do, let us know.  We’d love to hear it.

ByLen Clark Ph.D.

Len Clark Ph.D. of Irish 101, a veteran journalist and noted expert on cutting edge media technologies. Len continues to serve as a frequent consultant and occasional contributor to FIP.

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