When I got home today I was reminded that one of the most iconic photographs ever taken happened. The “Raising of the Flag at Iwo Jima” has become known as one of the best photographs ever taken being published over and over again. All of this is reflected in the 2006 war film Flags of Our Fathers. This film follows the regiment of the men who had partaken in this iconic raising that is represented in the photograph today.
We are introduced to two of the men who are home on leave. They come home as heroes for their partaking in raising the flag at Iwo Jima. We are told the rest through flashback. In this film we are introduced to the horrors of war that surrounded these men when they were fighting. Starting out at Camp Tarawa where they are heading out to fight the Japanese forces in World War II. After landing on the beaches the men head up to Mount Suribachi despite the wind and rain. After making it to the top of the mountain, photographer Joe Rosenthal captures: John Bradley, Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, Rene Gagnon, Michael Strank, and Harlon Block raising the flag on top of the mountain. Yet, this is not the end of the story for these men. They still have to continue fighting a war that is going on. Three of the men pass away the next day in battle. While the other three live and fight. As the film goes on we watch as Rosenthal’s photo is reprinted over and over again. The three remaining soldiers are requested to go home to go on war bond shows. The three are reluctant at first, yet they agree to go. After their return home they are struggling to adjust to life away from the battlefield and unwanted fame. One of them, Ira Hayes, faces discrimination for being Native American and struggles with alcoholism passes away due to exposure from freezing outside. After following Ira Haye’s tragic death, we go onto John Bradley telling his son James about what happened. The film ends with a flashback of the men swimming in the ocean after raising the flag.
Flags of Our Fathers was directed by Clint Eastwood. Everyone knows about the photograph that was taken on February 23, 1945, yet many people are unaware of the story behind it. This film gives us a glimpse into what not just the five men who did when they raised the flag on Mount Suribachi that day, but what happened to them after. Three of them, Franklin Sousley, Michael Strank, and Harlon Block passed away a couple of days after the flag was raised. While the other three were able to return home. We are able to get a glimpse into what the three remaining soldiers went through when they returned as heroes. Flags of Our Fathers has the reminder as to why American’s have the freedom today.