"Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima”: The Most Reproduced and Parodied Photo in History?

Photographer Joe Rosenthal admitted that when he took a shot of five Marines and one Navy corpsman raising the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima’s Mt. Suribachi on 23 February 1945, he had no idea that he had captured something extraordinary. He was setting up for a different shot when he spotted the group of men planting the flag and quickly took a snap without even looking through the viewfinder. The chance photo would become iconic overnight and go on to win the Pulitzer Prize.

“Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” is often cited as being the most reproduced photograph in history. It is also probably the most parodied image in the world. The “Iwo Jima pose” has become a popular symbol for organizations or movements wishing to convey victory, teamwork, or patriotism. The use of the image has ranged from respectful homage to what some consider offensive misappropriation.

Lego sculpture by brick artist Nathan Sawaya


Lego tableau by Mike Stimpson


Carved in ice by Ice Art, Inc


Mask of New York Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro


Alstede Farms corn maze, Chester, New Jersey


Sand sculpture by artist J.W. Gruber


Illustration by the “etchasketchist”


Sculpted out of butter in the Camp Fallujah chow hall, Iraq


Cake made from crispy rice and chocolate at Cake Cental


Skin and ink


Removable tattoos for those who only want to temporarily display their patriotism


Jack O’Lantern


Ol’ Glory beer successfully appealed to federal regulator to allow the “Pledge of Allegiance” to be printed on every can


Portable War Museum by artist Edward Kienholz


Stamps and Currency

United States 1945


United States 1995


Grenada 1970


Sri Lanka’s Central Bank initially denied that the 1000 Rupee note circulated in 2009 was modeled after the Rosenthal photograph, but later confessed that the image was indeed the inspiration.


Marine Corps 230th Anniversary Silver Dollar - 2005


Opened in 2006, The National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, VA, was designed to evoke the raising to the flag.


Album Covers
Bands striking the Iwo Jima pose has become cliché.

Anti-Flag – A New Kind of Army, 1999


Uriah Heep – Conquest, 1980


Funkadelic – One Nation Under a Groove, 1978


Savatage – Fight for the Rock, 1986


Rev Theory – Justice, 2011


Status Quo – In the Army Now, 1986


Canned Heat – Future Blues, 1970


Magazines, Comics and Book Covers

The 2008 Time magazine issue on global warming caused a furor when Iwo Jima veterans objected to the alteration of the original photo, calling it “an absolute disgrace”


2000 AD comic, 1999


The short-lived Cosmos Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine, 1953


America: A Patriotic Primer by Lynne Cheney, 2002


Speed Comics, 1945


Jock magazine, 1969


Blackhawk comic, 1983


Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett, 2003


Dumbest Generation by Mark Bauerlein, 2007


11 Freunde magazine from Germany, 2006



British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association


Published in 1971, The New Soldier by John Kerry documented the efforts of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War


DC Anarchists



Surfrider Foundation


Protest against Japan’s toxic waste trade policies in the Philippines


Editorial Cartoons
Among other commentary, the Iwo Jima pose is regularly used to satirize U.S. foreign policy








Respol YPF




Tourism Australia


The Official British Army Fitness Programme


Pop Culture

Newsweek promotional photo for The Jersey Shore







Indicative of its relevance as a cultural touchstone, the Iwo Jima pose has been referenced on The Simpsons at least six times – “New Kid on the Blecch,” “Selma’s Choice,” “LargeMarge,” “Rosebud,” “Half Decent Proposal,” and “Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington.”


Dr. Who – “Victory of the Daleks” 2010


Chuck – “Chuck Versus the Beard” 2010


Hard Rock Café pin



Work of the graffiti artist Banksy


See Also

Cats in the Sea Services

Through Japanese Eyes: WWII in Japanese Cinema

10 People You Didn’t Know Were US Marines

Sri Lanka’s Central Bank initialdenied that the 1000 Rupee note circulated in 2009 was modeled afterthe Rosenthal photograph, but later confessed that the image was indeed the inspirationLanka’s Central Bank initially denied that the 1000 Rupee note circulated in 2009 was modeled after
the Rosenthal photograph, but later confessed that the image was indeed the inspiration


Conferences and Events

Maritime Security Dialogue

Fri, 2015-01-16

  Please join us for a Maritime Security Dialogue, featuring: Admiral Paul Zukunft, USCG Commandant of the U.S. Coast...

2015 WEST Conference

2015 U.S. Naval Institute Member Event

Ultimate Skybox at The Diamond View Tower

View All

From the Press

Meet the Author & Book Signing

Tue, 2015-01-27

Guest Lecturer & Book Signing

Thu, 2015-01-29

Why Become a Member of the U.S. Naval Institute?

As an independent forum for over 135 years, the Naval Institute has been nurturing creative thinkers who responsibly raise their voices on matters relating to national defense.

Become a Member Renew Membership