August 11, 2005

Nurse in “V-J Day” photo unveils statue of the kiss

NEW YORK (Reuters) - This kiss has indeed lingered.

The woman in an iconic photograph of an American sailor
rapturously kissing a nurse during a V-J Day parade unveiled a
sculpture of the clinch on Thursday, saying she still doesn't
know who kissed her 60 years ago.

Taken in Times Square and entitled "V-J Day," the picture
by Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstadt came to
symbolize the euphoria as crowds celebrated the Allied victory
in Japan at the end of World War Two on August 14, 1945.

"The guy grabbed me, I closed my eyes and after he left me
alone, I walked away," said Edith Shain, a petite and
still-spry woman who just turned 87.

"Of course I let him kiss me because he had been in the war
and he had fought for me so I was real happy to do what I
could," she told reporters, standing next to the sculpture that
will be in a Times Square traffic island until August 14. "I
wasn't shocked because everyone was being kissed, and why not?
It was a great day."

The aluminum sculpture, which is slightly larger-than-life
and painted in life-like colors, was made by artist J. Seward
Johnson, who gave it the title "Unconditional Surrender." After
August 14 it will find a home in a gallery.

Shain was a 27-year-old nurse at the time and she later
became a school teacher in California where she married and had
three children.

Various men have claimed to be the man in the photo, but
she says it is impossible to know who it was for sure.

"There are 20 of these guys that are saying they were the
guy. They all went around kissing people so they assumed it was
them," she said.

Shain, who will host a public "kiss-in" on the site of the
famous embrace on Sunday, said the original kiss lasted six or
seven seconds but did not rate as one of the best in her life.

"I've had a lot of best kisses. This was somebody I didn't
know so I couldn't relate to it at all," she said.