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His Iconic Image Lives On

Now that the Iraq war has lasted longer than the U.S. role in World War II, it seems an appropriate time to pause and reflect on the death of a man who provided one of the great icons of that earlier conflict.

Joe Rosenthal, the AP photographer who captured the classic moment when five Marines and a seaman raised the American flag over Iwo Jima, died on Sunday at 94.


New York Times:

He had been rejected for military service because of abysmally poor eyesight, but in one-four-hundredths of a second ? the shutter timing on his Speed Graphic camera ? Joe Rosenthal took the most famous photograph of the Second World War.

His photograph of the flag-raising atop Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945, may be the most widely reproduced photo in American history. It was re-created on at least 3.5 million Treasury Department posters publicizing a massive war-bond campaign. It was engraved on three-cent Marine Corps commemorative stamps that broke Post Office records for first-day cancellations in 1945. It was reproduced as a 100-ton Marine Corps War Memorial bronze sculpture near Arlington National Cemetery. And it brought Mr. Rosenthal a Pulitzer Prize.

But almost from the day the photograph was emblazoned on the front pages of Sunday newspapers as a symbol of embattled patriotism, Mr. Rosenthal faced suspicions that he staged the shot, posing the Marines. He always insisted that he recorded a genuine event, and others on the scene corroborated his account.

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