From the Vault: Revisiting the iconic Iwo Jima photograph

7 Photos

This week, all eyes were back on Iwo Jima as the AP reported that James Bradley, author of “Flags of Our Fathers,” and the son of one of the men reported to be in the photo, publicly said that his father might not be in the iconic picture after all. And the U.S. Marines released a statement to the Associated Press saying they are looking into the true identities of the men pictured in Rosenthal’s shot.

Amidst this bout of historical amnesia, The Sun’s researcher, Paul McCardle, decided to look back in our own archives to examine photos of the first and second flag raisings at Iwo Jima, as well as shots of the ensuing scupltures it inspired.

Iconic photos take on a life of their own, acquiring meanings far beyond their original moment. And few photos have been more iconic than AP photographer Joe Rosenthal’s shot of soldiers raising the American flag at Iwo Jima – a photo that has graced the cover of countless school textbooks and even inspired movies and a memorial in Arlington, Virginia. The photo has become a ubiquitous symbol of the bravery of American soldiers, working together, and the triumph of the American Dream.

But what really is happening in that shot? The iconic Iwo Jima shot really captures the second flag raised on the Japanese island that day; earlier, soldiers had raised a slightly smaller American flag. Take a look through our images and see for yourself.