American artist Alex Pardee was so moved after reading about the Fukushima 50, the group of engineers at the Japan Fukushima nuclear power plant risking their lives in the attempt to stabilize the reactors, that he decided to create a piece of original art that he could sell and then donate the proceeds from to the Japan Relief Fund.
He based his piece of art on the icon photo taken by Joe Rosenthal in 1945 of U.S. Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima. Over 21,000 Japanese soldiers were killed at Iwo Jima. Because of the overwhelming superiority in arms and numbers, the Japanese soldiers never had a chance. Not only were the Japanese heavily outnumbered, they were cut off and could not be resupplied by Japanese forces.
The battle of Iwo Jima was a horrific defeat for Japan. The idea that the photo of the American flag being raised over Iwo Jima could be the basis for art created to honor the so-called Fukushima 50 seems so absurd that when I first saw this image, I thought it was some kind of joke. A joke in poor taste, but a joke none the less.
The thing is, it’s not a joke. It’s real.