Friday, December 08, 2006

Carl Mydans - My Heroes (cont.)

"December 7th, 1941 a day that will live in infamy!" Those words, spoken by President Roosevelt following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, heralded the start of the most devasting war the world has ever known. Of the dozen or so images that have become icons of World War II I have two favorites. The raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, by Joe Rosenthal (see the blog archive, Thursday August 25) and the surrender of the Japanese on the USS Missouri by Carl Mydans.

The surrender image is simple but elegant. General Yashijiro Umezu signs the surrender document as General Douglas MacArthur and General Jonathan Wainwright, a former POW and recipient of the Medal of Honor, look on.
I had the opportunity to see this print in person and ask Mr. Mydans about the circumstances of it's making. If you would like to read the facinating story of his WWII experienes and this image in particular click here.

Mydans recorded photographic images of life and death throughout Europe and Asia during World WarII. In 1941, the photographer and his wife were captured by the invading Japanese forces in the Philippines, held for nearly a year in Manila, then for another year in Shanghai, China, before they were released as part of a prisoner-of-war exchange. To listen to interviews with this pioneering photojournalist click here.

The following is from the The Digital Journalist:
MacArthur, knowing that Carl had been held prisoner by the Japanese, placed him with the first American armored regiment as it sped towards Manila. Late at night, the tanks drew up in front of the Santo Tomas prison. Carl dismounted and walked to the front gate and called out. One of his friends from the camp slowly approached, squinting in the glare of the tank lights. Carl called out..."It's Carl! Carl Mydans!" In disbelief the emaciated survivors ran their hands over his face. "My God! It is Carl Mydans!" They wept.