The Battle of Iwo Jima: Flag of our Fathers

“A single shot can end the war,” or so the American Marines thought before invading Japanese sacred island, Iwo Jima, in 1945. But as the 70,000 strong American marines square-off against 20,000 Imperial Japanese defenders, they would be in for a terrible surprise as the ‘Battle of Iwo Jima’ will forever be known as one of the bloodiest battle in the War for the Pacific.

‘Flag of our Fathers’ follow the story of three of the six surviving marines that raised the U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi. With their photos taken by Joe Rosenthal on February 23, 1945, the trio became instant celebrities and heroes in the United States. But for the three marines, John “Doc” Bradley (Ryan Phillippe), Pvt. Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford), and Pvt. Ira Hayes (Adam Beach), who fought alongside each other in the Battle of Iwo Jima, being heroes would not give them the peace of mind they hungered for.

Called back from service by the government to raise funds for the war effort, the three soldiers realize that their sacrifice, the sacrifice of their common soldiers and their friends at Iwo Jima meant something different to their fellow countrymen back home. Paraded like rare objects to cheering crowds for simply raising a flag atop a captured mountain, they feel as though they did not deserve the glories of being ‘heroes’ when others more worthy than them lay dead at the shores of Iwo Jima.

Every flash of light from the cameras of reporters remind them of mortar shells, machine-gun fire, artillery salvos and small-arms fire from determined Japanese defenders. Words spoken and gestures from people remind them of the horror they faced before seeing their friends being blown to bits in blood and gore from grenades and bombs. For the government at home, all it takes to win is the right picture. But the three marines know better.

The photo made the trio heroes but the real heroes were the ones left on the island. Little do the people back home understand that soldiers fight for their country but die for their friends. And the sad truth is that ‘heroes are something we create, something we need’.

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