Friday, March 14, 2014

The Mystery of the Kissing Sailor

A sailor and a nurse, total strangers, kissing in the midst of crowded New York City's Times Square It's August 14, 1945, during the heat of celebration of what was known as V-J Day, the day Japan surrendered and World War II ended. 

Those men and women who fought in this war are dying at the rate of over 500 a day.

Even today, many Americans are familiar with this photo, an iconic photo of World War II.  It appeared on page 27 (not on the cover, as so many people believe) of the August 27, 1945 edition of Life magazine, and, ever since, people have wondered who the kissing couple were.

It's been an enduring mystery, as the sailor and nurse were never identified by either photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt or Life Magazine.  Even modern computer technology has never conclusively identified who the "kissing sailor" was.

Glenn Edward McDuffie, an 86 year old World War II sailor who claimed he was the "Kissing Sailor", died today at the age of 86.  His claim of being the "kissing sailor" was backed up by Houston, Texas, police department forensic artist Lois Gibson in 2007.

But there was at least one other candidate "verified" by modern technology, George Mendonsa. 

The nurse's identity has also been disputed.

It's even disputed if the kiss was actually wanted by that nurse, or not.

In a way, the identify of the man and the woman shouldn't matter.  All of these candidates were members of what we call "The Greatest Generation", they all served their country in one capacity or another.

But, humans love a mystery.

The only thing we know for sure is that, sooner or later, everyone who has claimed to be in that photo will be deceased, and we will have lost another link to our history.


  1. Oh, I love that photo. Wow, I had no idea there was such a mysterious story surrounding this seemingly romantic moment in time. I never considered that perhaps an eager sailor went up to the first nurse he saw and planted a big one on her. Who knows? I'd like to think it was a long overdue, romantic reunion.

  2. I also never knew there was such mystery around this picture. However, what make me even more curious is why hold it a secret?

  3. What a great story. I saw it in the news today too. In those times, complete strangers would kiss each other, overcome by the joy of the moment.

  4. What a fascinating photograph and story. They both hold so much mystery!


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