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Arts and Culture

War Memorial's new exhibit preserves the legacy of World War II veterans

Ellen Abbott
Zaluski, his wife (right), Dennis (left) and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney (back middle) look upon the photo of the Marine flag-raising at Iwo Jima now on display at the War Memorial.

Onondaga County is among many communities across the country supporting the effort to “Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive.”  A new temporary display at the War Memorial in Syracuse is meant to preserve the legacy of those who fought during World War II.

Ninety-year-old Ed Zaluski remembers the battle of Iwo Jima like it was yesterday.

“Feb. 19, 1945,  normally is we had to bail out, we would fly at  15,000 feet but in this case, because of tunnels and the holes and everything else, we had to be accurate and you had to fly at 5,000 feet,” Zaluski says.

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO
Ed Zaluski worked as a gunner flight engineer on B-24 bombers in the Pacific during World War II.

Zaluski, who now lives in Cicero, was a gunner flight engineer on B-24 bombers in the Pacific and one of his assignments was to take part in the Battle of Iwo Jima, when U.S. Marines landed on and captured the island from the Japanese Imperial Army.  So as he stood in front of the Iconic picture of the Marine flag-raising at Iwo Jima, now on loan to the Onondaga County War Memorial, it meant something.

"I think this is great because war is war and you never forget what you’ve gone through.”

As part of the 70th anniversary of the victory over Japan and the end of World War II, a new display at the War Memorial features 10 pictures representative of the war; from the Battle of Iwo Jima to the D-Day Normandy invasion.  

They’ll be on display on the second floor of the War Memorial for one year according to director of Onondaga County Veterans Services Corliss Dennis.  She walked with Zaluski looking at the pictures, especially the iconic Iwo Jima photo.

While the survivors of World War II remember, she worries that the legacy of the greatest generation could become lost as the years go by without displays like this to highlight the sacrifices made 70 years ago.

"As these soldiers pass away, they are forgotten.”