In 2007, we had the privilege of interviewing MAJ Norman T Hatch, USMC (Ret.), veteran and Academy Award winner of film shot on Tarawa

Image how disappointing it was for him to find out about this image used at Langley High School:

Thank you Sir for your thoughtful letter to the principal:

Dear Mr. Ragone, it has recently come to my attention that one of your teachers has committed a terrible error in using the iconic Iwo Jima flag raising picture that took place on the fourth day, of a vicious month long battle in the Pacific during WW II. She super imposed a McDonalds advertising logo over the flag and showing it to her class as a supposed example of the nation fighting the war for commercial purposes.

I have more than just a personal interest in this matter as I am a retired Marine major who was on Iwo Jima, as the Photographic Officer of the 5th Marine Division. I had three photographers on the top of Mt. Suribachi that day and one of them S/Sgt William H. Genaust filmed the flag raising in motion pictures that have been seen around the world. Unfortunately he was killed eight days later and never had the chance to see the effect his film had on the public.

To think that a teacher, at the high school level, would stoop to the level of spin and rhetoric and confuse her pupils about the reason and history of our efforts at Iwo Jima where over 6000 Marines, Navy and Army died and over 16,000 were wounded is unconscionable. All died in a battle against the Japanese Imperial Forces that had first attacked us at Pearl Harbor.

I am unaware of what administrative measures you have to correct such ignorance but I implore you to take immediate action to see that such things do not happen again. History should not be prostituted to prove a point. I am a strong believer in the First Amendment but I think this particular action crosses the line, especially in a school of learning!


Norman T. Hatch Major USMCR (Ret)

Semper Fi

Posted by admin in From our Archive, History, Marine Corps, Naval Institute

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  • Bravo, Major Hatch. Thank you for once again stepping into the breach and serving your country admirably!

  • Dennis Turner

    How terriable! School kids now a days have too few role models that are real, to them the lates star scandels are more real than what happened to grandpa or a teacher who makes things fun by INSULTING a great acheivement. I agree this is an outrage!

  • Andy (JADAA)

    When did this use of the image occur? Was it recently enough to warrant further communication and follow-up to see if this issue has been resolved? I strong concur that this is the politicization of a universally regarded and iconic photo to apparently foist a political point of view upon a captive audience. I’d like to know the whole story.


  • Byron

    Uuurrah! Give ’em hell, Major!

  • That should cause pause ….

  • This letter went out today.

  • Paul

    The history teacher also needs a history lesson about accuracy. That logo with McD’s didn’t go into effect until 1968– a tad bit late for this. If you’re going to be insulting, at least be accurate.

    Did this happen recently, as in last week? I’d be willing to write a letter as well to the principal in my role as an educator and administrator.


    Well Done, Major Hatch!

  • Andy (JADAA)

    Interestingly enough, through Google, I discovered that this has apparently occurred recently. Even more interesting is the claim from one source that Langley is somehow part of the DODS school system. Further research does NOT support that claim, although I expect that a high percentage of the student population are the children of DoD military and civilian personnel.

  • Lou

    An excellent talk by Senator Webb. I cannot describe how happy … and relieved … I was, to see Virginia elect him to the U.S. Senate. I hope he and Mark Warner will continue John Warner’s illustrious record as champions of our armed services community and its/their needs.

    There is a responsible limit to any freedom, including the academic freedom to teach, and the “teacher” in question clearly violated it.

    She ignored the Four Freedoms and the Atlantic Charter … let alone all the hideous atrocities of then fascist militarist Japan … that our people were fighting a world war for. She mocked our dead and wounded not just of Iwo Jima, obscenely. There is NO excuse for that.

    She should be publicly censured by her administrators and students’ parents … and fired.

    Well done, USNI, in bringing this to public attention.

  • Paul

    I think firing is a bit extreme but whomever he or she is, there should be an opposing viewpoint offered to students. The teacher thinks that the war was fought for whatever reason that picture shows? Fine, then bring in a) a WWII veteran of the Pacific, b) a Holocaust survivor and if possible c) a former POW of the Japanese to give the class a good, if not great living history lesson.

  • I didn’t see any comment on the fact that the McDonald’s logo is in Arabic. I suppose this was some comment on the Iraq War. Extremely poor taste by someone who probably does not know anything about the actual incident. A Chicago Tribune reporter recently showed flag raising photo to his colleagues in the newsroom. A third did not know what is was and others could not identify the location, just that it was World War II.

  • Lou

    Something else about this which seems to have been overlooked: turning the Flag into a MacDonald’s logo is denigrating it if not desecrating it.

    I strongly believe there should be a Protection of the Flag amendment to the Constitution. It not only represents the Country, it represents all our servicepeople, especially those who died for it. And it wasn’t only Iwo Jima: think of it flying on Bataan and Corregidor before they had to surrender and suffer with little chance of survival. Think of how it rallied our servicepeople and militias in the Revolution and Civil wars.

    Real action should be taken in this Langley High School incident, if the facts of it are as they seem to be.

  • So, at what school was this? People need to know so they can avoid having their children attend this school.

  • I’m guessing Langley, VA? Just down the road from the CIA?

  • Lou

    I have received a response from the principal. If he has no objection, I’ll post the school’s statements here.

    The statements are unconvincing, and if there is no apology and withdrawal/deletion of the perverted image, I must continue to believe real action should be taken in this matter.

  • Walt White

    I would hope the Proceedings Magazine will follow-up on this item and let us know what action, if any, that school administration took or is taking! This is a disgrace to say the very least.

  • John Whalen, a very gratefull civilian

    All those men that gave their lives so that this “teacher” could spout this nonsense? Maybe that person should Google the words teacher and propagandists, seems they’re confused as to which is which. Teach the facts; let the student form their own opinion.

  • Kenneth Dolberry, USA SFC (Ret)

    What is the response from the McDonald’s regime? I am also a Disabled VietNam Veteran and I DO NOT not darken the door at McDonalds

  • Steve Hoyt

    I would hope that this caused an immediate response that this is inappropriate from the community. I don’t wonder that with this level of education that many young people today have no idea why December 7, 1941 is an important date. They likewise cannot tell you when World War II took place, who was involved and why this cataclysm took place. Where is this school located ?

  • Bernard W. Tharp, CWO 2, USMC Retired

    I spent 22 years in the USMC before being medically retired with injuries received while defending uninformed and ill-educated USA/Flag basher such as this. I am not sorry since this is what democracy is all about. I am disappointed that a teacher of the young would disgrace him/herself by showing only those parts of history that appear to uphold their view point. Such efforts smack of the totalitarian regimes of Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin who manipulated history and other facts by using half-truths to accomplish their aims. I fear for students that are taught using the no truth/half truth methods of the past. May their parents tell them the real truth.

  • With the feeling that the Langley school administration would probably like to cover up this embarrasing matter, I sent the following letter to the co-presidents of the Langley PTA in the hopes that they, as Americans, will not let it be buried.

    The addressees are to my letter are: Andrea Sotte and Stacy Wood


    As a veteran and an American, I wish to make you both aware of an action by a teacher at Langley that I consider to be despicable. The photograph of Marines raising the flag on Mt Suribachi represents all of the best in American servicemen and their sacrifices to keep our nation free while simultaneously fighting two wars oceans apart. To substitute a McDonalds sign written in Arabic for the American Flag and then present the image to high school students for any reason goes beyond the pale. This teacher owes an apology, not only to the students, the school, all men and women who have served so bravely in our military but to all Americans.

    The image and letter by Major Hatch to principal Ragone were posted on the information page of the US Naval Institute, a professional military association and forum for issues on national security located on the grounds of the United States Naval Academy.

    I for one would like to see that apology in written form sent to the US Naval Institute so that it may be published for all to see.

    The page on the USNI website that shows the picture, letter and some of the comments from USNI members and readers follows. I believe that both principal Ragone and you will hear more on this after the next monthly issue of Proceedings magazine reaches the more than 50,000 members of the Institute.

  • Ken

    Keep the heat on them Major! Hopefully with a flamethrower!!

    This is the reason I gave up any desire to go into teaching. The Education dept. at my school didn’t want History/PolSci majors to go into teaching. They wanted sociology/enviromental/cross cultural-mush majors and those who didn’t have enough of those classes had to get those classes under there belt as prep for the teaching credential program! THEY DON’T TEACH HISTORY/GEOGRAPHY/CIVICS ANYMORE, just babel & garbage.

  • Ray Driscoll

    I agree with Ken. Following my retirement from the Navy I did go into teaching as an NJROTC instructor. One of the most prevalent statements from my students was that in comparison with their U.S. history class, our history lessons were much more detailed and much more interesting. My students WANTED to learn more about the history of the U.S., and enjoyed our detailed approach to it. Additionally, many teachers in our school who were opposed to NJROTC had no interest in learning what NJROTC was really about, closing their minds to what they were supposedly inspiring their students to do…LEARN.
    Unforunately, many of the history texts currently in use in high schools are written with a “slant”, and touch very lightly on major conflicts, particularly WWI and WWII. The emphasis on standardized testing performance and on “teaching for the test” in many high schools leaves little room for electives that inspire learning and help to satisfy young curiosity.
    Hopefully the efforts of Major Hatch, Mr. Pino, and others will awaken the administrators, educators, and parents at Langley H.S. and other schools and districts nationwide to the responsibilities of role models to appropriately balance respect for the Flag and the Country with First Amendment rights.

  • Bob Lucas

    This is an utter disgrace, that teacher should be severly repramanded (if not fired) and made to write an essay on the sacrifices made by our young service people in times of war. How does she feel about the service people currently? Does she understand the consequences that would have resulted had men and women had not defended our country in time of war (and peace)?

    Get a life lady and grow up.

  • Lou

    Without going into specifics, this now seems to me to have been a deliberate provocation which was inevitable, if you know something about the teacher.

    Either the administrators were negligent and didn’t do a background check, or they share her attitudes.

    Action SHOULD be taken.

  • joe

    I am sorry. I am a history teacher and would have done the same thing. It proves a point and that is all. McDonald’s did not exist during World War II, so how does show how this war was fought for commercialism. Give it a rest. World War II is over and has been for a very long time. You were a hero to some and a villian to others. It is all perspective. You can not silence thought. This is not 1984. Let people be and give respect to those who love you and to those who hate you. You can then be considered whatever you want to be.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    A high school classroom is not the place for a teacher to make his/her “point”. A captive audience of impressionable minds is not appropriate for a teacher to tout personal political leanings or beliefs. Your idea that your “point” is somehow more valuable than other points of view, and that being a teacher gives you some special insight as to the “real” truth, is a great deal of what is wrong with the far-left indoctrination system that our public schools too often become.

    If you think it is a matter of “perspective”, you might want to talk about survivors of the Rape of Nanking or Manila, the Bataan Death March, or the occupations of Guam and Korea by the Japanese. Or survivors of German occupation of Europe. They might differ with the opinion that choosing sides for or against the Axis Powers was merely how you looked at it.

    This is NOT 1984. And it isn’t 1984 because of the blood and sacrifice of the heroes that the teacher at Langley disparages, and you claim are “villains” to others.

  • Lou

    “You were a hero to some and a villian to others.”

    This statement regarding this issue is a textbook example of the ignorance and resulting evil behind moral (and educational) relativism.

    Well said, UltimaRatioReg.

  • Byron

    Hey Joe, I had a history teacher just like you back in high school. All his tests were essay questions. He managed to give me a C+ the first six weeks (which raised my parents eyebrows) and the next six weeks, I was determined to beat that revisionist SOB. First test I got, I was given an F. Brought that sucker home to my mom. Next morning, I’m in history, and the PA says that the teacher and I are to report to the principals office. My mom is there, and shes waiting with a stack of my favorite history books. She had the principal go over my test answers. The teacher got his a$$ chewed out and told he better have a good reason for giving me a bad grade the rest of the year. His only mistake was messing with a 15 year old with a passion for history who’d also managed to make his way through a fair chunk of Ann and Will Durants history books.

    So take your mind meld bullstuff and go home with it and leave it there. Your job is to TEACH the COURSE to the kids, NOT REWRITE history, you freakin’ tool. It’s no wonder that kids today are dumber than a box of rocks when jackasses like you are teaching them.

    Thank God I had a lot of good teachers that gave a damn.

  • Lou

    I believe that was Will and Ariel Durant, Joe, and thanks for sharing that. 🙂

    Any updates on this case?