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Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima
The image (top) of Marines raising an American flag on the peak of Iwo Jima's Mt. Suribachi was taken by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal on February 23, 1945. It is one of the most reproduced images in history, having appeared on a postage stamp (which for years was the biggest selling stamp in U.S. post office history) and also served as the model for the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. However, within days after Rosenthal took it, rumors began to spread that he had staged it. Although these rumors have been repeatedly discredited, they continue to be repeated to the present day.

The rumors can be traced back to the fact -- which Rosenthal never tried to hide -- that he photographed the second flag-raising on Mt. Suribachi, not the first. The marines had raised a flag earlier in the day, under heavy fire. Marine Photographer Louis Lowery managed to get a shot of this event (bottom). But the commanders later decided this first flag should be replaced by a larger one. Rosenthal only arrived at the peak in time to photograph this second flag raising, but he always insisted that he never directed or posed the soldiers in this shot any way.

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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.