POLITICS

Lesser-Known Images Tell The Real Story Behind That Iconic Iwo Jima Photo, Taken 70 Years Ago Today

02/23/2015 11:58 am ET | Updated Feb 24, 2015

On Feb. 23, 1945, an American flag was raised over the Japanese island of Iwo Jima, and AP photographer Joe Rosenthal was there to capture the now-iconic moment.

In Rosenthal's famous photo -- which served as the model for a massive bronze statue that now serves as the Marine Corps memorial in Washington, D.C. -- soldiers can be seen raising a massive American flag. But the award-winning image actually shows the second flag raised that day; the soldiers had initially raised a smaller flag that a U.S. commander thought looked too small when viewed from a distance.

Below, a series of images of the soldiers raising both flags:

  • Louis Lowery / US Navy / Getty Images
    U.S. Marines raise the first U.S. flag on Iwo Jima in this photo by Navy photography Louis Lowery.
  • Louis Lowery / US Navy / AP
    U.S. Marines stand nearby the first flag raised on Feb. 23, 1945 in Iwo Jima.
  • Bob Campbell / U.S. Marine Corp History Division
    U.S. Marines switch out the smaller flag for a larger one during the battle at Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945.
  • Joe Rosenthal / AP
    The iconic Pulitzer Prize winning photo by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal was actually the second flag raised on Feb. 23, 1945 during the battle for Iwo Jima.
  • Joe Rosenthal / AP
    U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment of the Fifth Division raise the American flag after capturing the 550-foot Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945.
  • Bob Campbell / U.S. Marine Corp History Division
    Preparing to take a group photo in front of the flag atop Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima.
  • Getty Images
    U.S. Marines gathered around the flag on Mt. Suribachi in Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945.
  • Bettman / Corbis
    Joe Rosenthal, a veteran AP photographer, who took the famous picture of the flag raising at Iwo Jima, holding camera.
  • Bob Campbell / U.S. Marine Corp History Division
    Photographer Joe Rosenthal, left, takes a group shot of U.S. Marines after raising the flag on Mt. Suribachi in Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 194.
  • Joe Rosenthal / AP
    U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment, fifth division, cheer and hold up their rifles after raising the American flag atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945.

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