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Harlon Henry Block
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The picture of the raising of the Stars and Stripes on the top of Mount Suribachi was published throughout the world. It was taken by an Associated Press photographer, Joe Rosenthal. Later it was established that this was not a photograph of the original event. The first flag-raising was photographed by S/Sgt Louis R. Lowery, working for the Marines' magazine Leatherneck. While the ceremony was taking place, a hidden Japanese survivor threw two grenade at the group on the summit. The first grenade blew up the flag; the second fell at the feet of the photographer. Lowery dived down the steep side of the dormant volcano, rolling some 50 feet before he stopped, having dislocated his side and breaking his cameras. Later the same day a second raising of the flag was arranged, using a larger flag. This time a far more powerful an carefully worked-out picture was shot by Rosenthal. It was this second picture, not the one taken by Lowery - which was also preserved - that gained the fame.

At first no one was aware of the subterfuge. The picture was taken at its face value - as a very good piece of photojournalism. However, when it was disclosed that it was not in fact the picture of the original flag-raising, an argument arose as to its authenticity. If it is considered to be a fake, undoubtedly we are emotionally liable to view the picture with less interest and enthusiasm. But it was not intended to mislead the public, nor, do I think, did the photographer himself perpetrate the myth of the picture in any way. It was a genuine reconstruction of a real event, mainly occasioned by the belief that the original picture had been lost.

Added by: M. A.
12/31/2001
 
 

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