For this project, I took on the task of creating a calligram, which is artwork that uses type, calligraphy, or handwriting in order to create a visual image. I wanted to do something for the Marine Corps, and chose one of the most iconic images in the history of the Corps: the second flag-raising on Iwo Jima.
The original photograph, taken during the Battle of Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945 by Joe Rosenthal, is still a national treasure. The photograph captured 5 Marines and 1 Navy Corpsman as they raised a flag over the highest point on the island at Mount Suribachi.
They are Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, John Bradley, Harlon Block, Michael Strank, and Rene Gagnon. Strank, Block, and Sousley later died in the battle.
I first started off by printing out the original photo so I could sketch out my thoughts and ideas for how it would be done. I decided that the text of the flag pole would be some of the major battles of Marine lore: Bellau Wood, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Chosin Reservoir, Hue City, Fallujah, and Marjah. Their order came from top left to right bottom, signifying the movement forward for Corps history.
I also thought that I would put meaningful quotes about the Marine Corps (there are many) behind the flag raising, and it is reflected in my sketch. Later on, I decided against this, and instead made the quotes the base of Suribachi that the flag raisers stood upon.
For the flag waving in the wind, I chose to use a partial lyric of the Marines’ Hymn, “First to Fight for right and freedom…” and close with the official Marine motto of Semper Fidelis, which means Always Faithful in Latin. The text of the flag raisers was made up of notable or heroic Marines. The flag raisers to the left of the pole are those that represent the past — with names of Marines who served in the Revolution, WWI, WWII, Vietnam, and Korea. The Marines to the right of the pole represent the future of the Marine Corps — those that still are carrying the honor of that past, and make up heroic Marines of the Global War on Terror.
The flag pole base comes in to the official emblem — the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. The quotes at the base are famous sayings from Marines themselves or from others speaking about Marines. One of my favorites is one that comes from the communist troops in Korea:
“Do not attack the First Marine Division. Leave the yellow legs alone. Strike the American Army.”
Finally — there is the left bolded text of 10 Nov 1775, which is the birthday of the Marine Corps. Since the Marine Corps still lives on, I chose to put another quote on the right, and bolded “I Will Hold”, which is fitting for all Marines today.