Rainbow flag Iwo Jima photo adaptation draws heavy criticism

FILE - In this Feb. 23, 1945 file photo, U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, raise a U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima. Strategically located 660 miles from Tokyo, the Pacific island became the site of one of the bloodiest, most famous battles of World War II against Japan. (AP Photo/Joe Rosenthal, File)

(MEDIA GENERAL) – Photographer Ed Freeman has received heavy criticism and death threats after sharing his adaptation of the iconic flag-raising at Iwo Jima. Freeman’s adaptation includes four muscle-clad men raising a rainbow flag, mirroring Joe Rosenthal’s famous photo.

The photograph, originally taken nearly a decade ago, according to the Washington Post, resurfaced last week following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to end state bans on same-sex marriage.

Ed Freeman shared the photograph Friday, June 26, 2015 with the message “When I took this picture almost 10 years ago, it never, never occurred to me that it would someday come to symbolize the victory we are celebrating today. Congratulations to all of us! Love to you all.”

Responses on social media have been mixed, but mostly filled with vitriol.

John Wilkes responded, “I love this pic. Don’t let the murderous haters censor you.”

Dwight Witmer stated, “There are some symbols that shouldn’t be parodied, and this is one of them.”

Keri Mckinney replied, “Sick of this pic. Take it down. What a disgrace to our soldiers who died there.”

Several comments were disparaging and threatening toward Freeman, including one by Herbert Krebs that said, “Who is going to step up and send Ed to take pics in The Promised Land?”

Stacy Carter followed with, “I’m glad you got threatened. You deserve it.”

Freeman told the Washington Post he never expected this backlash.

“The principle complaint that people have is that I am equating the gay struggle with the contribution and sacrifice of American servicemen,” he told the Post. “But there is no equal sign here. This is not meant as a sign of disrespect. For God sake, no. I totally support people in uniform. The comparison is going on in people’s heads, and they’re spoiling for a fight. They’re already on edge because of the gay marriage decision.”

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