“The battle of life is, in most cases, fought uphill; and to win it without a struggle is perhaps to win it without honor. If there were no difficulties, there would be no success; if there were nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to be achieved.” -Samuel Smiles

In the fight against chronic pain, there are many days that we find ourselves feeling like we are constantly fighting an uphill battle, taking five steps forward to only be pushed ten steps backwards in a game of tug-o-war over control of our body. This uses up so much energy that it causes us to become discouraged and give up the fight, allowing our pain to win the battle, and in many cases, win the war.

Across the scope of history, you can find many examples of battles that were fought uphill. One that many Americans are familiar with is the famous battle of Iwo Jima, a long and bloody conflict that began on February 16, 1945.

For three straight days, US naval and aerial forces bombarded the island, trying their best to soften up the Japanese defenses for troops landing on the beach. Sadly, the enemy was dug in so well that the bombardment did little damage. On the fourth day, February 19, the US Fifth Amphibious Corps landed on Iwo Jima, establishing a foothold on the island. From there, the forces divided, half moving further inland to capture the two main Japanese airfields, while the other half pushed south to capture Mount Suribachi. For four long days, American forces fought their way up the treacherous slopes, battling Japanese forces for control. In the end, on February 23, US Marines finally reached the top, clearing out the last of the Japanese defenders. This turning point in the battle was immortalized by one photograph of six Marines raising the American flag, letting it fly over the war-torn landscape. On March 26, the battle for Iwo Jima was declared officially over, with the last of the Japanese forces being cleared.

Of the 70,000 Americans who took part in the invasion, 26,000 were killed or wounded during the battle, the first time American casualties exceeded the Japanese.

Had the Americans just flat given up and not taken Iwo Jima, the war would have gone on for much longer, ending with many more lives being lost on both sides. Instead, they pushed forward and took the island, gaining a major foothold and bringing them one step closer to the end of World War II.

If you do not try to win the smaller, uphill battles, how can you possibly hope to win the overall war?

Today, I encourage you to keep up the fight and not lose hope. There is victory through daily perseverance.

Fight for it!

One thing to remember. It took not one, but six Marines to raise that flag. You are not alone in this fight. Only together can we achieve victory.