THE STORY BEHIND
It was captured by the famed photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, on
August 14, 1945 - the day when Japan’s surrender to the Allies was announced,
and World War II officially ended. The snap of a sailor kissing a white-clad
woman amid the celebrating crowds in Times Square became the symbol of the
ecstatic excitement people felt when the war ended. The photographer didn’t
manage to ask the subjects for their names as everything happened so fast and
the scene was incredibly lively. “There were thousands of people milling
around… everybody was kissing each other”, Eisenstaedt explained.
Over the years, several men and women came forward, claiming they are the ones depicted in the now-iconic image. A 2012 book identified them as George Mendonsa, a sailor on leave at the time, and Greta Friedman, a dental assistant wearing a nurse's uniform. The truth is Mendonsa and Friedman were actually perfect strangers! The sailor, who was overjoyed with the news, expressed his excitement through a completely spontaneous kiss; “You come back from the Pacific and finally, the war ends. The excitement of the war being over, plus I had a few drinks. So when I saw the nurse, I grabbed her and I kissed her” he told CBS news.
Not only that, but he was also on a date with another woman at the time,
Rita Petrie, who can be seen in the background of the photo. But she didn’t
seem to mind. In fact, she later became Mendonsa’s wife for 7 whole decades.
Both subjects of the 20th century’s most defining photograph recently passed
away - Friedman in 2016, and Mendonsa in 2019.
Clancy's comment: An iconic photograph with a great story.