Tuesday, February 6, 2007

The power of a photo

Photo by: Joe Rosenthal

KLM flight 457, somewhere over Romania - With no photos to process, and no stories to write yet, I decided to watch a movie. I'm a WWII buff, and I picked Flag of our Fathers, without knowing anything about it except that it was made by Clint Eastwood, and that it is set in WWII.

Little did I know that this is a movie about, a single combat photo. Specifically, the famous picture of the Marines raising the American flag on Iwo Jima. At the beginning of the movie the narrator claims the ability of a photo to win or loose a war, and contrasts the flag raising photo with another famous photo from the Vietnam war of a South Vietnamese officer executing a prisoner with a pistol shot to the head.

The movie was definitely a serendipitous choice, and food for thought. I'm under no delusions that I will ever take a picture this powerful, but it's still a heady reminder that a camera has a power of it's own in war.

But the story is also a cautionary tale about "truth"... The photo actually shows a team of men raising a second replacement flag later in the day, not the original soldiers who were the first to the top of the mountain. The men in the photo became heros, and the men who fought their way to the top of the mountain are virtually unknown.

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Day by Day, by Chris Muir (updated daily)

Chris Muir is the cartoonist that I met in Kuwait. He spent two weeks in Iraq at the same time I was there in February 2007, and so thought it would relevant to showcase his work on my site. Here is a link to Chris' humorous travelogue of this Iraq trip: http://billroggio.com/archives/2007/03/arrival_alignright_v.php