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The War And Human Experience Of World War Ii

1746 words - 7 pages

The Raising of the Flag on Iwo Jima photograph was captured by Joseph John Rosenthal, a 20th Century war photographer, on February 23, 1945. Rosenthal was born on October 9, 1911 in Washington, D.C.and as an Associated Press photographer during World War II, he had the task of photography and he captured the iconic black and white image of the 6 men raising of a second larger flag on Mount Suribachi in Iwo Jima. This photo grab instant fame as the best known war photo of World War II and is frequently mentioned as the most famous photo ever taken. Rosenthal received the Pulitzer Prize for this image in the same year it was taken in 1945 but the success of this image was only the beginning. This picture, years later, is still used as a symbol of patriotism placed on items such as stamps, calendars, newspaper, magazines, posters, and even commemorated as a bronze statue called the Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington, VA. Rosenthal died on August 20, 2006 at the age of 94 in the San Francisco area. What makes this work of art so controversial was the fact that the idea of propaganda and the staged manipulation that was going on during the American war effort in World War II (WWII). Susan Sontag makes various connections in her work “Regarding the Pain of Others” to cement her claims for a brainwashed distanced society away from the battlefield. She makes mention of Rosenthal’s image to by stating the photograph was a “‘reconstruction’ by Rosenthal of the morning flag-raising ceremony that followed the capture of Mount Suribachi, done later in the day and with a larger flag” (Sontag 56). With no other access to war information alternative to the secondary sources that the bias media outlets provide us, we fail to realize the consideration of what great pain others thousands of miles away from us. Through the lens of someone else, we the “spectators” who never experienced this hopeless feeling of a homeland war attach ignorant notions of social status and ideologies of patriotism to make right of the criminal acts of military operations that are wrong.
The historical and social climate the image of Rosenthal was in fact directly related to wartime propaganda that was popular during this time. In an effort to rally an entire country for their dedication and aid to help fund the war, pictures such as the one Rosenthal took were used as a symbol of staged heroism. From the words of Sontag, “If the governments had their way, war photography, like most war poetry, would drum up support for soldiers’ sacrifice” (Sontag 48). In other words, Sontag presents an argument of nationalism and how the government can strategize a way to promote their war effort to depict the fight of good and evil. So when the flag is raised by the six men, it shows a victory earned through the struggle and sacrifice of the American soldier in battle. The charm and authenticity of this image would soon be seen in America, for example on TV, stamps, and posters, thus making this...

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