The Story behind the most famous war photograph in History
On War: Joe Rosenthal & Iwo Jima
He has been called a genius, a fraud, a hero, a phony. He has been labeled and relabeled, adored and abused, forced to live and relive, explain and defend that day atop Mount Suribachi on each and every day that has followed, more than 18,000 and counting. “I don’t think it is in me to do much more of this sort of thing,” he said during an interview — his umpteen-thousandth — about Iwo Jima. “I don’t know how to get across to anybody what 50 years of constant repetition means.”
© Joe Rosenthal/AP. U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment of the Fifth Division raise the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, on Feb. 23, 1945.
Upon landing, Rosenthal hurried toward Suribachi, lugging along his bulky Speed Graphic camera, the standard for press photographers at the time. Along the way, he came across two Marine photographers, Pfc. Bob Campbell, shooting still pictures, and Staff Sgt. Bill Genaust, shooting movies. The three men proceeded up the mountain together.
About halfway up, they met four Marines coming down. Among them was Sgt. Lou Lowery, a photographer for Leatherneck magazine, who said the flag had already been raised on the summit. He added that it was worth the climb anyway for the view. Rosenthal and the others decided to continue.
The first flag, he would later learn, was raised at 10:37 a.m. Shortly thereafter, Marine commanders decided, for reasons still clouded in controversy, to replace it with a larger flag.
© AP. Former Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal holds his famous Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of the flag raising on Mount Suribachi as he poses in San Francisco, Feb. 18, 1965.
Joe Rosenthal, Iwo Jima e a história das duas bandeiras…
Alguns soldados americanos chegaram ao topo do monte, fincaram a bandeira no território conquistado e comemoraram. A batalha começou novamente, mas logo os americanos retomaram o controle da situação. Segundo o “famous pictures”, a única vítima desta batalha ou escaramuça, foi a câmera do sargento Lowery. Ele resolveu descer a montanha e buscar outra. No caminho encontrou três fotógrafos, Bill Genaust, Bob Campbell e Joe Rosenthal. Lowery contou para os três que eles haviam perdido o hasteamento da bandeira americana, mas que valia a pena continuar a caminhada porque a vista era muito bonita.