Your memory of the Iwo Jima flag raising is largely accurate
Well, it’s not my memory of the Iwo Jima flag raising, but rather my memory of what I saw and heard about it. I’m not quite that old.
but I still don’t think it’s fair to call it a “hoax,” or even a “sort of” hoax. But I guess that’s kind of a judgment call. The way I look at it, it is an actual flag being raised at Iwo Jima, it wasn’t staged, it was raised under conditions of enormous danger (two-thirds of the island or something like that was still under Japanese control), and the fact that it is the second flag bothers me not at all and changes the significance not at all.
That’s why I said that it was sort of a hoax, in that it really did happen, but it’s not really what a lot of people think it is.
The first flag raising wasn’t photographed at all, if I remember correctly, for the simple reason that there was no photographer there—it was horribly dangerous, so the guys just ran up there, stuck a flag in the ground, and beat it.
I found a copy of the picture of the first flag that I was thinking of. As you can see, it was a lot smaller than the second one. That’s the one that they put up there to show that they’d taken the top (although not quite secured it).
The posed photo that you mention of troops standing around the flag was actually shot just after the famous one, not before (if I remember correctly). It was the one that the photographer assumed would be used because he had no idea the famous one would turn out so perfectly. (If I remember correctly—forgive my using that phrase so often—he didn’t even have time to focus, or at least not much. It was just like—“Look, quick, they are raising the flag.”) Remember, he was just sending raw, undeveloped film back behind the lines so he didn’t know what he had until much later.
Heh. . .this posed photo that you’re talking about is the one that I don’t recall ever seeing before.