Flag Raising


Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima is an iconic photograph taken on February 23, 1945 by Joe Rosenthal. It depicts five United States Marines and a U.S. Navy corpsman raising the Flag of the United States atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. The photograph was instantly popular, being reprinted in hundreds of publications. Later, it became the only photograph to win the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in the same year as its publication, and ultimately came to be regarded as one of the most significant and recognizable images in history, and possibly the most reproduced photograph of all time. Of the six men depicted in the picture, three (Franklin Sousley, Harlon Block, and Michael Strank) did not survive the battle; the three survivors (John Bradley, Rene Gagnon, and Ira Hayes) became suddenly famous. The photograph was later used by Felix de Weldon to sculpt the USMC War Memorial, located just outside Washington, D.C.

There are six Flag Raisers on the photo. Four in the front line and two in back. The front four are (left to right) Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, John Bradley and Harlon Block. The back two are Michael Strank (behind Sousley) and Rene Gagnon (behind Bradley).

This photo was the second flag raising on Mount Suribachi. After the first flag was raised, it was deemed too small to be seen all over the island and Lieutenant Colonel Johnson, the Battalion Commander, directed one of his officers to find a larger flag from one of the ships on the beach. He wanted a larger flag so it could be seen over the entire island and lift the spirits of his men (see First Flag Raising).

As the second and larger flag was being carried up the slopes of Suribachi, Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal was just beginning his hard climb up the mountain. When he arrived at the top, the first flag was getting ready to be lowered while the second flag was getting ready to be raised. At first, Rosenthal hoped to photograph the lowering of the first flag together with the raising of the larger flag. When he discovered that he would not have time to line up both pictures, he decided to concentrate on the second flag raising. This photo is probably the most famous single photograph ever taken and won many awards. It also became the model for the Iwo Jima Memorial near Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The memorial, dedicated in 1954 and known officially as the Marine Corps War Memorial, commemorates the Marines who died taking the Pacific island in World War II.

Another photo taken shortly after the flag raising on Mt. Suribachi shows four of the Flag Raisers (Bradley, Hayes, Sousley and Strank) with their jubilant buddies. Strank, Sousley and many of these boys would soon be dead.

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