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Sunday, February 23, 2014


"The Shot" by Joe Rosenthal
That's Joe Rosenthal (left) taking posed pictures atop
Mt. Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945.
SUNDAY REVIEW—Looking back at my first weeks as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner, a Hearst daily based downtown on Third, just south of Mission Street, I so often kick myself for stories I missed covering rather than for mistakes made on the ones I had written.  For example, today is February 23 and on the same day back in the early 70s, the city room was abuzz with keeping up with covering President Nixon’s trip to China to meet with then Premier Chou en Lai.  Being on the business page, I had just wrapped up filing the day’s story on stock market results from Wall Street.   Maybe I was the only one that noticed one of our Examiner photographers had just snapped off a few shots another staff photographer.   Curious as to what was going on I elbowed my immediate editor.    “What day is it?” Elmer asked.
            “The date?” he asked.
            “Feb. 23rd, why?”
            “Every couple of years on Feb. 23 we run a story on Joe Rosenthal.”
            Elmer gave me a look only a seasoned newspaper editor could give a rookie reporter fresh out of San Diego State.
            I had to find out myself as Elmer found something else to do that was away from my presence.
            What I learned that Joe Rosenthal was a famous World War II photographer, who on February 23, 1945 snapped one of the more famous images ever photographed. 
            He took the shot of Easy Company raising the stars & stripes atop Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima.
            I remember making small talk with Joe over the coffee machine in the City Room.  But did I take him to lunch and find out more about him?  Nope, but in recalling those days, the world wasn’t about Joe Rosenthal.  He didn’t encourage talk about what he did way back in 1945, especially to a green reporter with no instincts for a good story if it bit him on the ass.
            He was more humble and talented than he was ever famous.

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