On Christmas Day, Angelina Jolie's Unbroken will hit theaters. It tells the story of Louis Zamperini, who spent 47 days at sea after a near-fatal plane crash and was then captured by the Japanese navy when he washed up in the Marshall Islands; he spent the rest of the war in several prison camps.
For people in Virginia, there's an opportunity to see an artifact from one of the prison camps at which he was interned--the Omori Prison Camp.
The Japanese did not permit prisoners to make or maintain the flags of their countries, but when an Allied victory seemed imminent a group of Americans at Omori gathered what materials they could and made a makeshift Stars and Stripes out of a bed sheet. They hoisted it when their camp was liberated at the end of the war on Aug. 29, 1945.
The iconic flag figures prominently in the widely-seen photo taken at the time of the camp's liberation. It can be found online .
The flag is one of 15,000 Navy-owned historical artifacts on loan from the Naval History and Heritage Command displayed around the world. It can be seen by the public at the Virginia War Memorial (621 South Belvidere Street, Richmond, VA 23220). Their hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday and the Shrine is open 5 a.m. to midnight daily.
The flag was framed prior to its shipment to the Virginia War Memorial. See a photo here:
For more information about how the flag came to be displayed in Richmond, see: http://www.navy.mil/ah_online/deptStory.asp?issue=3&id=75325&dep=8
The Naval History and Heritage Command, located at the Washington Navy Yard, is responsible for the preservation, analysis, and dissemination of U.S. naval history and heritage. It provides the knowledge foundation for the Navy by maintaining historically relevant resources and products that reflect the Navy's unique and enduring contributions through our nation's history, and supports the Fleet by assisting with and delivering professional research, analysis, and interpretive services. NHHC is composed of many activities including the Navy Department Library, the Navy Operational Archives, the Navy art and artifact collections, underwater archeology, Navy histories, nine museums, USS Constitution repair facility and the historic ship Nautilus.
For more information about the Naval History and Heritage Command, please visit http://www.history.navy.mil/