1945 Photography

1945 Photography: Joe Rosenthal, The Associated Press

Marines Raise the Flag on Iwo Jima

Feb. 23, 1945: It had been four days since the AP’s Joe Rosenthal landed on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima. The hail of Japanese fire had not let up. During one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, U.S. Marines captured Mount Suribachi, a volcanic peak on the southern tip of the island. Jubilant, they raised a flag.

Rosenthal trudged up the mountain. He learned that the Marines planned to substitute a larger flag that could be seen all over the island. “I thought of trying to get a shot of the two flags; but I couldn’t line it up. I decided to get just the one flag going up.” Marines milled about. Suddenly, “out of the corner of my eye … [I saw] the men start the flag up.” He swung his bulky Speed Graphic and captured the most enduring image of the war.

Newseum Podcast’s Pulitzer Prize Photos Series

Associated Press photojournalist Joe Rosenthal discusses his photograph of Marines planting the American flag in the midst of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.