Today marks the day that the United States Flag was raised on Mt. Surabachi on Iwo Jima, Japanese Territories, during the battle for that island in World War II in 1945.
Joe Rosenthal, an AP photographer, has been credited with the iconic photograph that has defined the spirit of the Marine Corps since then; it has also been turned into the Marine Corps Memorial in Washington DC.
The Photograph as taken was composed in landscape mode, and snapped as a reflex to what was going on, according to accounts by Rosenthal and others:
The flag raisers are (left to right) Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, John Bradley and Harlon Block, Michael Strank (behind Sousley) and Rene Gagnon (behind Bradley). Strank, Block and Sousley would die shortly afterwards. Bradley, Hayes and Gagnon became national heroes within weeks. Bradley managed to put his life back together, Gagnon was dealing with memories the rest of his life, and Ira Hayes could not process his actions against the reaction of the public – he ended up drinking himself to death, lamenting the loss of so many men on Iwo Jima and him being treated as the “Hero” by public and press alike.
An AP photo editor cropped the image and it became a rally point for the US:
Shortly after “THE” photo was snapped, a picture was taken to commemorate the occasion:
This is the picture Rosenthal was thinking of when asked if the Iwo Jima Flag picture was posed. You see, Joe was still on the island, and had not seen the edited version that was already being published across the United States.
And yes, the Rosenthal picture is the second flag to be raised on Surabachi. That fact was never hidden, but the press didn’t think that told the story strongly enough. No foreshadowing here, folks. No snarky remarks about how improved and less manipulative the media has become.
The first flag raisers were Hank Hansen (without helmet), Boots Thomas (seated), John Bradley (behind Thomas) Phil Ward (hand visible grasping pole), Jim Michaels (with carbine) and Chuck Lindberg (behind Michaels). Photo by Lou Lowery 1000hrs 23FEB1945.
On this day, let us remember all those who served and lost that day.