Raising the Flag

As Flag Day 2008 approaches, and I reach the end of the Flag a Day project, I realize that this commentary would not be complete with out mentioning the most iconic American flag image of all time, Joe Rosenthal’s Pulitzer Prize winning, Raising the Flag over Iowa Jima. This image, taken in 1945 on the Pacific Island of Iowa Jima, after a long, heated battle by the Marines, was distributed by AP and ran in newspapers all over the world. It symbolized perseverance, strength, victory and patriotism for American people in the midst of a brutal war.

The photograph became so popular that it appeared on 3.5 million posters for the 7th war bond drive. The Marines appearing in the photo were brought home and taken on a whirlwind publicity tour. The photo was made into a stamp in 1945 another stamp 1995 and a commemorative silver dollar in 2005.


The Marine Corps War Memorial, a memorial statue located near Arlington National Cemetery, is based on the photograph and a life size version made from Lego blocks is on display in the National Museum of the Marine Corps Heritage Center gift shop.

This photograph is an icon embedded in the American public memory bank symbolizing perseverance, strength, patriotism, unity and hope.

Oddly enough, a similar photograph was taken by Thomas E. Franklin of the Bergen Record in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Officially known as “Ground Zero Spirit”, the photograph shows three firefighters raising a U.S. flag in the ruins of the World Trade Center. This photograph was also distributed by AP and ran in newspapers and magazines throughout the world. In 2002, it too was made into a stamp.


And finally here are a couple of my photos. You know that an image has moved beyond iconic when it reaches the status of lawn art. 






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