Kissing the War Goodbye, photo by Lt. Victor Jorgensen from National Archives and Records Administration.
Today, August 14th, is the anniversary of VJ Day (or Victory Over Japan Day) in 1945 when Alfred Eisenstaedt captured the iconic photograph of the kiss between sailor and nurse in Times Square. The photograph, entitled The Kiss, has been the subject of much debate, across a wind range of topics.
Was it staged? Eisenstaedt himself gives two rather different accounts of how it happened. Who are the people in the photograph? Over a dozen people have claimed to be the sailor or the nurse. Even Eisenstaedt thought he had found her, a woman by the name of Edith Shain, but the claim was debunked by a 2012 book which claimed Shain was too short. Shain. The sailor is identified with a bit more certainty, through photographic analysis, to be George Mendonça. Mendonça identified the nurse as a woman by the name of Greta Friedman, who also came forward as the nurse.
What time did it take place? As reported in Wired, a physicist and his colleagues have determined the precise time over the course of a four year study: 5:51 pm they believe.
It was also not the only photograph taken. A version entitled, “Kissing the War Goodbye” was taken by U.S. Navy Lieutenant and photojournalist Victor Jorgensen, at a different angle. This is the photograph wildly printed as posters, as it is part of the National Archives and creative commons. Eisenstaedt was very protective over his image.
In 2005, Seward Johnson, whose life-size sculptures are lining the Garment District plazas along Broadway right now, installed an oversized version of The Kiss in Times Square. A smaller version of this sculpture will be in Times Square today.
Next, read about the Top 10 Secrets of Times Square.