The Marine Corps War Memorial honors the dead of the U.S. Marine Corps. While the statue depicts one of the most famous incidents of World War II, the memorial is dedicated to all Marines who have given their lives in the defense of the United States since 1775.
During the battle for Iwo Jima, news-photographer Joe Rosenthal caught the afternoon flag raising in his famous Pulitzer Prize winning photograph. http://www.iwo-jima.navy.mil/iwo59/thephoto.htm When the picture was later released, sculptor Felix W. de Weldon, then on duty with the U.S. Navy, constructed a scale model and then a life-size model of it. Three survivors of the flag raising (the others having been killed in later phases of the Iwo Jima battle), posed for the sculptor who modeled their faces in clay. Available pictures and physical statistics of the three who had given their lives were collected and then used in the modeling of their faces.
Once the statue was completed in plaster, it was disassembled and trucked to Brooklyn, NY, for casting in bronze. The casting process took nearly 3 years. After the parts had been cast, cleaned, finished, and chased, they were reassembled into approximately a dozen pieces--the largest weighing more than 20 tons--and brought back to Washington, DC. Here they were bolted and welded together.
The 32-foot-high figures are shown erecting a 60-foot bronze flagpole from which a cloth flag flies 24 hours a day in accordance with a Presidential proclamation on June 12, 1961.
Photographers may find the difference in the focal lengths of the 3 night shots shots interesting. The first at 50mm, the second at 13mm, and the last at 10.5mm (a fisheye).