It was the banner turned Donald Rumsfeld's face white with fear, in bold red and blue, fluttering on the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier above President George Bush - 'Mission Accomplished'.
How ominous that banner is now. Even with the routine suicide bombings of cafes, bus stations and mosques for the last decade, the fall of Iraq's second city of Mosul and other northern towns to the extremist militants caught the world off guard.
Those closest to Bush during the time of the Iraq war knew the banner was misjudged. Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, later said he had taken care to remove any use of the phrase "Mission Accomplished" in Bush's speech itself. He told journalist Bob Woodward in 2006: "I was in Baghdad, and I was given a draft of that thing to look at. And I just died, and I said my God, it's too conclusive. And I fixed it and sent it back... they fixed the speech, but not the sign."
The 700,000 fleeing the violence, half a million of them from Mosul, is only the latest in the shocking numbers that lay bare the deep divisions and the extent of the violence in the country since the 2003 invasion, and just how misjudged the banner was.
Here, we examine the most heart-wrenching figures: