February 23, 1945: Joe Rosenthal’s Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima is taken.

On the fourth day of the Battle of Iwo Jima, this iconic photograph, which gave the strategically important victory a place in the cultural legacy of the war, was captured atop Mount Suribachi. The men who participated in the flag-raising were John Bradley, Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, Harlon Block, and Michael Strank (the last three were killed during the month-long battle). The book Flags of Our Fathers (also a Clint Eastwood film) explores the experiences of these six men.

Although controversy later arose surrounding the identities of the men, whether the entire thing had been staged or not, and the fact that it was the second time a flag had been raised that day, the photo was widely lauded and won the Pulitzer Prize for Photography that same year (the only ever photograph to do so). It has since been used as the basis for Arlington’s Marine Corps War Memorial, as well as countless books and movies, and to Americans, it presents a powerful symbol of war, of courage and victory, and a reminder of the six million combatants who died in the Pacific Theatre, including nearly 30,000 at Iwo Jima alone.

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