What most people don’t realize about this famous scene from Iwo Jima is that it was actually the second time the Marines raised the flag; another had gone up earlier in the day on top of Mount Suribachi, but afterwards the Marine brass decided they wanted to claim it as a souvenir and sent up another group of Marines with a larger one to replace it. Along with the troops went war photographer Joe Rosenthal, and the rest is history. The world set upon the metaphorical significance of the picture as a hallmark of victory with little regard to the actual circumstances surrounding its capture. It was only after another month of hard fighting and heavy casualties that the island was finally secured, and during that time three of the six men here were killed. Of the three that returned home, only one man (John Bradley) really adjusted to civilian life and prospered after the war. There’s an excellent book called Flags of Our Fathers that sheds light on the entire story, and a movie was made with the same name. Bradley is depicted here as the second soldier from the left. Flags of Our Fathers was written by his son.
In taking this picture I tried to get a unique perspective on the monument that emphasizes the men who are its subject, since after you read Flags of Our Fathers you’ll never look at the memorial the same way again. The irony here is that I’m taking a picture of a statue that is itself based on a photograph.
I took the picture. The Marines took Iwo Jima. – Joe Rosenthal
A note on future posting: As you may have noticed, this blog hasn’t been updated in a while. Future posts will be intermittent, as I focus on other priorities that are less artistic and more pragmatic. I’m still shooting quite a bit though, and hope to get back to a more regular posting schedule later this year.