Monday, August 9, 2010

A kiss immortalized in August 14, 1945



Photo from Wikipedia: Kissing the War Goodbye

Above is the lesser known photo taken by Lt. Victor Jorgensen of a sailor kissing a passing nurse on VJ Day in Times Square.

The most famous and iconic picture of this same subject - VJ Day in Times Square - taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt, was published in LIFE in 1945 with the caption, In New York's Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers.

August 14, 1945 in New York City was a magical moment - a confluence of history, a place, and everyday people. Soldiers were returning home from an intense four years of fighting when President Truman announced Victory in Japan (VJ Day) - the end of the American involvement in World War II.

In Times Square, the sailors paraded in joy for they had won! On the street, civilians came out to the streets from their shops, the hospitals, to savor this moment of victory. Then a sailor, caught up in the passion, kissed a surprised young nurse, who was stopped in mid stride as two photographers, Lt. Jorgenson, an American sailor, and Alfred Eisenstaedt, a German-American photojournalist for LIFE magazine, snapped this spontaneous moment.

Eisenstaedt, whose photo made it into LIFE, ironically had fought on the side of Germany in World War I. He later photographed a meeting between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in Italy before emigrating to US to escape Nazi oppression in 1935 .

But who were the subjects of Jorgenson's and Eisenstaedt's iconic photo?

The nurse was Edith Shain and here is the story:




The greatest generation, like Edith Shain who passed away this June 2010, is fading into history. The new generation taking their place is greatly in debt to their sacrifce.

When our nation was born, the writers of the Declaration of Independence finished "with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."

So did many, who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II, carried the Spirit of 1776 to the Spirit of 1945. May our generation carry the Spirit of 1776 and 1945 in 2010 and beyond.

Other links:

From nydailynews.com: Edith Shain, nurse whose V-J kiss with sailor in Times Square immortalized in Life photo, dies at 91

From YouTube.com: Photo of iconic kiss reenacted

11 comments:

  1. Great post, Susan. So inspiring! I've always felt like I'm an old soul, drawn to history and previous eras. I love the history and story behind the picture. How that one moment must have changed her life!

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  2. Thanks Michele. It seems the nurse also had a chance to inspire many before she passed away, especially our soldiers who go in harm's way to protect us.
    Susan

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  3. The Sailor, who was verified by the U.S. Naval War College, is a gentleman who was featured in O Journal, a Portuguese Newspaper in New Bedford, MA. The sailor was one of the honored guests of the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament Parade, held Sunday, August 1, 2010 in New Bedford. The article tells readers his name and how this iconic photo took place!

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  4. Thanks for the information and it seems he is still alive. We all appreciate - in many ways - his service to his country.

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  5. Very nice piece, Susan! I love it! Thank you!

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  6. What a wonderful, inspiring post Susan. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  7. Thank you Helen and Jan for stopping by.
    Susan

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  8. I've heard that Eisenstaedt was initally struck by the contrast between the sailor's navy blue uniform and the nurses white one which is why he took the picture Whatever the reason may have been, it's an iconic photo that perfectly illustrates the joy and gratitude of that day.

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    1. Thanks, Hezza. Sorry I waited so long to reply. This was posted a while ago and it's my most popular posts.

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  9. I was born the day this picture was taken. August 14, 1945 in
    Rockford, Illinois. My mother said she heard alot of fireworks
    going off and people running and celebrating in the streets outside her hospital room in Swedish American Hospital.
    Judith Person Baney

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    1. How wonderful to be part of history - especially such around an iconic picture. Thanks for stopping by. :)

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