No. 25 – Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima

Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima image courtesy Associated Press

Brian Bolland’s ensemble cover for the millennium prog 2000[1] (1999) v Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima (23 February 1945) photographed by Joe Rosenthal (1911–2006)

Taken during the Battle of Iwo Jima (19 February–26 March 1945) in the Second World War (1939–1945), this is the only photograph to win the Pulitzer Prize for photography in the same year as its publication, becoming the icon of the US war effort in the Pacific, and very possibly the most parodied photograph in history.

This was the second US flag raising on Mount Suribachi (169 m [554 feet]) on the island of Iwo Jima that day, possibly fuelling speculation that Rosenthal had staged the photograph. He hadn’t. The US Navy had raised two flags, helping to boost morale in a hard-fought battle against a doomed but determined enemy. Of the 21,000 Japanese soldiers charged with defending Iwo Jima only 216 were taken prisoner (many because they were knocked unconscious), with around 3,000 fighting on for many days after the battle, utilising the island’s cave and tunnel systems.

Notes:

  1. A special edition-assigned prog number celebrating the millennium; the chronologically correct prog 2000 was published in 2016