"Erection of the memorial, designed by Horace W. Peaslee, began in September 1954," says Military.com. "On the 179th Birthday of the Marine Corps, President Dwight D. Eisenhower dedicated the statue before a large crowd assembled at the site bordering the northern end of Arlington National Cemetery. Those attending the dedication included members of 'The President's Own' United States Marine Band; Vice President Richard M. Nixon; the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr.; Felix de Weldon; Joe Rosenthal; military personnel; Marine veterans; and friends of the Corps. "
A non-sound film of some of the proceedings that day is here.
The inscription on the based reads: "In honor and in memory of men of the United States Marine Corps who have given their lives to their country since November 10, 1775." On the opposite side this is: "Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue," which is what Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz said of the Americans who fought on Iwo Jima.
In June 1961, President John Kennedy directed that the U.S. flag should fly from the memorial 24 hours a day.