Brooklyn planning memorial to honor Harold “Pie” Keller, Iowan who helped raise flag at Iwo Jima

Published: Jul. 4, 2021 at 6:34 PM CDT
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BROOKLYN, Iowa (KCRG) - The town of Brooklyn is carrying on the legacy of Cpl. Harold P. Keller, an Iowan who was one of the flag raisers at Iwo Jima.

It took more than 70 years for him to get that recognition. Now, the community is making sure he’s permanently acknowledged in his hometown.

“It’s just amazing to me to still have so many people care and acknowledge dad for just a moment in history,” Kay Maurer, Keller’s daughter, said.

Mauer said it’s still surreal. It’s been nearly two years since her dad received the recognition.

“I wish dad would’ve opened up and talked to us about this. I would’ve love to hear it from him,” Mauer said.

The famous photo capturing six Marines raising the flag misidentified one of the men, and only recently did Keller get the attention he deserved, long after he died in 1979. Rusty Clayton with the Brooklyn Community Foundation says after finding out about Keller, he and Mauer started discussing a way to honor his legacy in his hometown.

“It will be a life size bronze statue with Harold, and all his gear just exactly like he was wearing it at Iwo Jima,” Clayton said.

The idea for the statue was an effort between the family and Brooklyn Community Foundation. The town’s flag display on Jackson Street will be home to the memorial.

“We felt it was just fitting to be with the flags,” Clayton said. “We have a big flag that’s 25 x 30 foot on an 80-foot pole, and then all the Armed Services flags around in it. We have all of our state flags.”

Right now, the clay model is in the works. Clayton said the project will cost $100,000. A local gun shop is selling Keller memorial edition rifles to help raise money.

“Everybody’s excited about it. They want to see it, and know that we’re really part of that history,” Clayton said.

Clayton expects the statue to be up by this fall, and says it’s to honor other veterans as well.

“We want it to be for others as too, whether they were in World War I or World War II, or even Desert Storm,” Clayton said.

Both Clayton and Maurer agree the image captures more than a moment in war, but it symbolizes determination and patriotism; themes that transcend time.

“It wasn’t the individual man. It wasn’t dad. It was that iconic photo that I think when it came into the states during the war, it gave our country a really positive, good feeling that we were doing well in the war,” Maurer said.

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