On February 23, 1945, six U.S. Marines planted an American flag atop a battle-blasted hill on the island of Iwo Jima, a fiercely defended Japanese stronghold. Photographer Joe Rosenthal got lucky and captured the moment in a single, immortal image. Within weeks the photograph became the theme of the U.S. Government’s seventh War Bond drive. A postage stamp bore the image. The scene has been reenacted multiple times on screen.
Most enduringly, perhaps, a monumental sculpture of the flag raising, based entirely on Rosenthal’s Associated Press photo, stands guard above the Potomac River across from Washington, D.C.
And it’s all because Rosenthal swung his bulky Graflex 4x5 camera in the right direction at the right split-second and snapped