Yet another war photograph that became extremely famous in the United States and the world at large. Taken by America photographer Joe Rosenthal on February 23, 1945, this photograph depicts six men (five US marines and a US Navy corpsman) raising the flag of the United States on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. Rosenthal’s snap became one of the most famous photographs of the World War II.
The Battle of Iwo Jima or Operation Detachment, took place between 19 February and 26 March 1945. The US forces had attacked the Iwo Jima island which was under the control of the Imperial Japan. It was the first US attack on any of the Home Islands of Japan. Around 18,000 Japanese soldiers died in this battle as it proved to be almost like a hara kiri act. Japan’s defeat was certain since the beginning of the battle. Japanese soldiers had no way of retreating from the island nor could they get any reinforcement. On the other hand, the Americans were armed with naval and air power in addition to the outnumbering soldiers on ground.
Finally on 23 February, the Americans managed to raise the Stars and Stripes on the Mount Suribachi —the dominant geographical feature on the island. Rosenthal’s click of this moment made a historic photograph. The American’s had already raised a flag. Later they went on to raise a second and larger flag; Rosenthal’s photograph captured the second flag raising. The six men who are seen raising the flag are: John Bradley, Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, Harlon Block, and Michael Strank. Of these the latter three died in the battle. In order to take the picture Rosenthal piled stones and a sandbag so he had something on which to stand, as he was only 5 feet and 5 inches.
Did you know?
- Rosenthal received the Pulitzer Prize in 1945 for this iconic photo. The prize awarding committee noted the photo as “depicting one of the war’s great moments,” and “frozen flash of history”.
- The US flag that became immortalized in this photograph was sewn by an old lady named Mabel Sauvageau in a small California-based factory.
- The photograph is currently in the possession of Roy H. Williams.
- A statue, in Arlington, Virginia, based was designed by Felix de Weldon on the basis of this photo in 1954. This statue memorial is dedicated the US Marine Corps.
- Both flags (from the first and second flag raising) are now located in the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia.
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