A 26ft statue depicting a famous New York Times Square kiss that celebrated the end of World War II has been unveiled to mark the 65th anniversary of the U.S. victory over Japan.
The towering colour sculpture immortalises Alfred Eisenstaedt’s black-and-white photograph of an unidentified sailor kissing nurse Edith Shain in 1945.
The image captured an epic moment in U.S. history and became an iconic photo marking the end of the war after being published in Life magazine.
On Saturday, Americans will gather for a ‘kiss-in’ at the base of the statue in the first national day of remembrance for the Second World War generation.
Around 6,000 buglers across the country will play the military funeral tune ‘Taps’ on the anniversary of V-J Day.
Shain died in June at age 91 before she could see her campaign for the commemoration completed.
She had become something of a celebrity because of the photo and wanted to leverage that fame into a worthy cause, said Warren Hegg, national supervisor for the ‘Keep the Sprit of ’45 Alive’ campaign.
‘It really became Edith’s mission in life that there would be this national day, that every day someone thought about that day in August when a girl was kissed in Times Square, that people would think about it more deeply,’ he added.
‘She said we should have a day for all the ordinary men and women of that generation who did so many remarkable things and never were really recognized for that:
‘The people who endured the Great Depression, saved Western democracy, and then went on and rebuilt the world.’
The identity of the nurse in Eisenstaedt’s photograph was not known until the late 1970s when Shain wrote to the photographer saying that she was the woman in the picture taken on August 14 at a time when she had been working at Doctor’s Hospital in New York City.
The identity of the sailor remains disputed and unresolved, although a man named Carl Muscarello has claimed it was him.
From then on the photograph also made its mark on Shain’s life as the fame she garnered led to invites to war related events such a wreath layings, parades and other memorial events.
Shain, who died at her home in Los Angeles in June, leaves behind three sons, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.