V-J Day Kiss: A Photo That Transcends Time

V-J Day Kiss: A Photo That Transcends Time

V-J Day in Times Square

On August 14, 1945, photographer  Alfred Eisenstaedt managed to capture an image that would be able to withstand the test of time and impress generations to come. Called “V-J Day in Times Square”, the photo depicts an American sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square. The image was taken on Victory over Japan Day. 


Almost seventy years later, the photograph remains incredibly popular and is considered one of the most famous photos of the 20th century. The photo was taken with a Leica IIIa camera. It was published in Life magazine alongside other photographs of Victory Celebrations. The author did not have the time to take the details of the two people he had managed to capture with his camera. Moroever, their faces are not clear. Throughout the years many have claimed to have been the two in the V-J Day in Times Square photo.

In the 1970’s Edith Shain wrote to  Eisenstaedt, claiming to have been the woman in the photograph. Since the identity of the woman had been claimed, the editors of Life asked the sailor to step forth. In the October 1980 issue, eleven men and three women had written, claiming to be the people in the photograph.

The three women were Edith Shain, Greta Friedman and Barbara Sokol. The men were Donald Bonsack, John Edmonson, Wallace C. Fowler, Clarence “Bud” Harding, Walker Irving, James Kearney, Marvin Kingsburg, Arthur Leask, George Mendonça, Jack Russell, and Bill Swicegood.

However, time and analysis proved that neither of these men was the sailor in the photo. Their height and bone structure did not match. It wasn’t until 2007 that another man laid claim. His name was Glenn McDuffie. Glad that the war was over and that his brother who was a Japanese prisoner of war would be released, McDuffie said to have gone out to celebrate. Upon seeing the nurse, he ran out to her and kissed her long enough for Eisenstaedt to take the photo. 

The issue of the identity of the sailor and the nurse remains uncertain. Some claim that Shain was not tall enough to have been the nurse. Others do not believe McDuffie was the sailor in the photo. However, one thing is certain. Throughout the years the V-J Day in Times Square photo has become a symbol. It featured in several movies and a bronze statue of the scene has been designed in 2005.

Did you know these facts about the V-J Day in Times Square photo?

Source and Images: life.time.com and time.com


Remi Koene
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