Day 292 of Colourisation Project – February 23
Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.
Today’s photo for colourisation is perhaps one of the best-known war images ever made. Taken by Joe Rosenthal for the Associated Press on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima, on this day, February 23, 1945, it depicts five United States Marines and a naval medicine corpsman raising an American flag at the summit of Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.
This historic photo won the the 1945 Pulitzer Prize for Photography, the only photograph to win the prize in the same year it was taken.
At the time Rosenthal had no idea of the symbolism of his image. He was actually setting up for a different shot when he noticed the marines struggling to hoist the heavy flag pole, and quickly took a snap to capture that moment without wasting time to stop and look through the viewfinder.
The image became iconic almost overnight though it did attract some controversy with claims that the photo was staged. As Rosenthal put it;
“Had I posed that shot, I would, of course, have ruined it. I’d have picked fewer men…I would also have made them turn their heads so that they could be identified for AP members throughout the country and nothing like the existing picture would have resulted.”
Three Marines depicted in the photograph were killed in action over the next few days. while the three surviving Marines went on to become national heroes.
The power of the image spoke volumes to a war-weary nation and was later immortalized in the largest bronze statue in the world – the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, in 1954, the 179th anniversary of the Marine Corps.
“The real heroes of Iwo Jima were the guys who didn’t come back.” ~ John Bradley, one of the surviving flag raisers.