• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Flag of our fathers

Pictures never lie, except when we come to believe they represent something they don't. The iconic World War II Iwo Jima photo we all know was not of the actual raising of the flag. It was a re-creation of the event:

FlagCharles W. Lindberg, one of the U.S. Marines who raised the first American flag over Iwo Jima during World War II, has died. He was 86.

[. . .]

Lindberg spent decades explaining that it was his patrol, not the one captured in the famous Associated Press photograph by Joe Rosenthal, that raised the first flag as U.S. forces fought to take the Japanese island.

[. . .]

By Lindberg's account, his commander ordered the first flag replaced and safeguarded because he worried someone would take it as a souvenir. Lindberg was back in combat when six men raised the second, larger flag about four hours later.

Rosenthal's photo of the second flag-raising became one of the most enduring images of the war and the model for the U.S. Marine Corps memorial in Washington.

Though the photo doesn't depict quite what we thought it did, it has become important as a larger truth. It has come to represent what the war meant to us and the world, and we use it to remind ourselves of who we are and what we stand for. But Lindberg and his fellow Marines deserve remembering for who they were and what they stood for. If our ideals are important, we need to honor not only them but the best among us who lived up to them.

Posted in: History


brian stouder
Fri, 06/29/2007 - 5:44pm

The flag raising was not staged; it was not a "re-creation".

Read the book Flags of Our Fathers, and or watch the movie. It was indeed a second flag-raising, because a unit commander didn't want the original flag snapped up by a general. The FIRST flag raising raised a huge chorus of ships horns and "Huzzahs" all around the island - and the second one went almost completely unnoticed. The two photographers were on hand, and Rosenthal wasn't even sure if he had captured it when he snapped his shot.

Of course, the AP editors up the line immediately saw that they had an image for the ages....and the book and the movie explore our need (in general) for heroes in bronze, and larger-than-life icons. In fact, that need specifically does NOT extend to the flesh-and-blood people, at least after the crisis has been reached and passed.