In 1945 America needed money to continue to finance their involvement in WWII (pay the troops, purchase supplies, etc), but the publics support of government-sponsored fundraising campaigns was seriously waning. When efforts to raise the funds were at their most bleak, an Associated Press photographer named Joe Rosenthal raised his camera and snapped off a shot which turned the sagging War Bonds drive around.
The three surviving American soldiers captured for eternity in that photo were transported off the battlefield and paraded around America as the heroes of Iwo Jima. But there was a big problem with the photograph. The American government and military officials chose to ignore the fact that the photo wasnt a spontaneous act captured in the midst of battle. No, this particular snapshot was actually of the second flag-raising done after an officer demanded the first flag be removed (he didnt want it hanging in some politicians office) and a second flag be erected in its place. Six soldiers - five U.S. Marines and a Navy Corpsman - were ordered by their superior officer to take down the original flag and put up a new one. Rosenthal went along hoping he could get a good shot of the area and wound up shooting one of the most recognizable images of war in history.
The Real Heroes and Those Who Portray Them in Flags of Our Fathers
Of the young group of actors, Ryan Phillippes the most recognizable face of the lot. Excellent in last years awards darling, Crash, Phillippe follows up that critically acclaimed role with yet another solid performance. Phillippes matured into an actor to be reckoned with and delivers an inspired performance in Flags of Our Fathers. Playing Navy medic John Doc Bradley, Phillippes pretty much the heart and soul of the film. Reluctantly thrust into the spotlight, Doc Bradley was a calming influence on his fellow flag-raising heroes, keeping things steady even under a great deal of stress both on the battlefield and on stages across America.
While Gagnon accepted his 15 minutes of fame, American Indian and U.S. Marine Ira Hayes (played by Adam Beach) couldnt deal with being labeled a hero while his fellow Marines were losing their lives in battle. Hayes felt so guilty about being pulled off of Iwo Jima that he drowned his sorrows in booze, acted out against his handlers, and ultimately was shipped back to fight some more. As the conflicted Hayes, Adam Beach completely transforms into a man struggling to understand the events which thrust him into the national spotlight. Beach did an impressive amount of research and it shows with the way the characters inner struggle play out across his face.