Joe Rosenthal (1911 - 2006)
by Jack. M
Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima
Joe Rosenthal is a famous American war photographer who took one of the second world war's, and 20th century's, most iconic photos.
His parents emmigrated from Russia to the United States. Although they were Jewish, Joe adopted the Catholic faith when he was still a young boy.
He grew up in San Francisco and always had an interest in photography. It was a childhood hobby that he developed a passion for.
Rosenthal signed on at the University of San Francisco and after graduating took a job as a photographer with the San Francisco News. With WWII, he tried for a job taking pictures for the military but got turned down owing to bad eyesight! He was famous for his thick specs!
So he became a photographer for the Associated Press instead, and recorded the movement of US troops throughout the Pacific. But it wasn't until February 23rd 1945 that he captured his soon to be world famous image.
US Marines had just captured the island of Iwo Jima. Rosenthal got word that they were raising the flag atop Mt. Suribachi. That was one photo op he wasn't going to miss!
By the time he got there, a flag had already been raised. But luckily a group of Marines were in the process of erecting another, larger one, that took a combined effort to stand it up.
Ropsenthal turned his camera on them as they did so and produced an image that instantly became a powerful symbol of US victory in the Pacific, 'Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima'.
It's gone on to be a more general symbol of the bravery and success of the US military. Its iconic status can be seen with its presence in so many places. From stamps to statues to paintings - it really has become a defining image of American culture.
Rosenthal won a Pulitzer Prize for the image - the judges calling it 'a frozen flash of history'.
He went on to become chief photographer of Times Wide World Photos, and a major figure in the world of photography.
He lived until he was 94, dying in 2006.