'Flags of Our Fathers' Stays True to History

Joe Rosenthal's Photo of Flag-Raising on Iwo Jima in 1945 i i

Joe Rosenthal's iconic photograph of servicemen raising the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima actually captures the second time the men raised the flag. Click on the gallery to see more images of Iwo Jima. Joe Rosenthal/Corbis hide caption

itoggle caption Joe Rosenthal/Corbis
Joe Rosenthal's Photo of Flag-Raising on Iwo Jima in 1945

Joe Rosenthal's iconic photograph of servicemen raising the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima actually captures the second time the men raised the flag. Click on the gallery to see more images of Iwo Jima.

Joe Rosenthal/Corbis
The famous flag-raising on Iwo Jima's Mt. Suribachi in 'Flags of Our Fathers i i

The famous flag-raising is faithfully re-created in Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers. DreamWorks Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption DreamWorks Pictures
The famous flag-raising on Iwo Jima's Mt. Suribachi in 'Flags of Our Fathers

The famous flag-raising is faithfully re-created in Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers.

DreamWorks Pictures

From 'Flags of Our Fathers'

More from the Interview

Chuck Melson, chief historian of the U.S. Marine Corps, talks about the "salty" language of Flags of Our Fathers.

Clint Eastwood's new film, Flags of Our Fathers, portrays the flag-raising on Iwo Jima during World War II and the aftermath of that event.

Photographer Joe Rosenthal recorded that iconic moment on Feb. 23, 1945. But his photo actually captures the second time the men raised the U.S. flag on Mt. Suribachi.

The taking of the Pacific island claimed nearly 7,000 American lives, with more than 19,000 injured and 46 missing.

Chuck Melson is chief historian of the U.S. Marine Corps. He says Eastwood's film is historically true to events, including its depiction of the war-bond drive, the spectacular scenes of ships coming to Iwo Jima, and the congestion on the beach during the invasion.

"They could come ashore, but once they hit that black volcanic sand, they couldn't move," he says.

"Tanks and jeeps got stuck, and the Marines themselves were slipping and sliding and really couldn't dig into the beach, so they were wide open to Japanese guns and shellfire."

Melson says the film accurately represents the dangers faced by Navy medics and acknowledges that the U.S. flag was raised and photographed several times — and that the image that persists today is that of the second flag-raising.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.