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Saluting Joe

September 03, 2006|Joel Pett | Joel Pett is the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist of the Lexington Herald-Leader. His work also appears in USA Today.

When Joe Rosenthal snapped his famous photo of five Marines and a Navy corpsman planting the Stars and Stripes at Iwo Jima, he could hardly have imagined its effect on ... cartooning, not photography. We have borrowed, twisted and otherwise appropriated his image hundreds of times since he captured it on Feb. 23, 1945. The consensus among our ranks is that no spoofed photograph is even a close second, although the flaming Hindenburg, sinking Titanic and "Dewey Defeats Truman" images get some honorable mention among thieves. Paul Conrad's 1992 media invasion of Somalia, Tony Auth's 1987 sex-for-secrets scandal at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and Clay Bennett's more recent Iraqi house of Kurds (and Shiites and Sunnis) give some hint of the range of adaptations. There's pretty much no idea we won't run up this flagpole.

Rosenthal died Aug. 20 at age 94, fittingly memorialized by Jimmy Margulies. His iconic shot -- an enduring symbol of toughness, sacrifice, resolve and pride -- lives on, especially in the memories of Marines ... and cartoonists.

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