Depicted in the painting are Marines of the 5th Marine Division raising the American flag on Mt Suribachi, Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945 - 1,173 days after the declaration of war.
War has a human side that is often overlooked. We often see and appreciate the Rosenthal image as a national symbol. However, looking more closely we can better understand that while it was the work of a nation, the Battle of Iwo Jima and the flag raising that took place there, forever shaped and altered the individual lives of those involved. This painting takes that closer look to remind us of the human lives involved in war - real lives tied to real families from real communities. Fellow citizens, not so different from ourselves but cast into extraordinary circumstances. The painting’s life-size scale, texture and stark colors cultivate an appreciation for the dynamic physical, mental, and emotional experiences of those ‘on the ground’ – individuals who endeavored together on this of many days to defend our precious ideals of liberty and justice for all.