Saturday there was a huge kiss-in in Times Square to commemorate the 65 anniversary of V-J Day which marked the end of WWII. Couples came to the famous spot and recreated this special kiss seen below. The kiss not only marked the end of the war with Japan but also signified the end of all hostilities in WWII since victory had been achieved in Europe several months early with the surrender of Germany.
Perhaps the most famous picture of the end of The War, The Kiss, offers a glimpse into a world that the rest of us are closed off to. It was a world that believed that total surrender was possible. It was a world that didn’t know what an atomic blast did to others, And it was a world that knew nothing of the cold war that loomed on our horizon. It was a world where the word ‘over’ meant OVER.
The lady in the kiss was Edith Shain who died at the age of 91 last June. The couple didn’t know each other. It was kiss to celebrate the past 4 years being over. Done. The American people had suffered. They had been rationed. They had grown victory gardens. They had done without. They had lived with the constant fear that they could be invaded. Their loved ones had been lost, maimed, killed.
Approximately 417,000 American service men (and women) were killed in WWII. That number is out of a national population of approximately 131 million.
While our number killed looks staggering, other countries dwarf ours. Japan lost over 2 million military men. China 3-4 million. The Soviet Union lost as many as 10 million. German lost 5.5 million. After watching series like Pacific, Flags of our Fathers and Wind Talkers it is truly amazing that anyone survived. There were 20,00 Americans casualties in the battle of Iwo Jima alone which just looked like a rock pile to most folks.
A permanent statue 25 feet tall of the kiss was erected in Times Square. There are just some things that cannot be recreated. And there will probably never be another time when Americans pull together towards a common cause like WWII.