The Kissing Sailor

By Gault, Owen | Sea Classics, August 2012 | Go to article overview

The Kissing Sailor


Gault, Owen, Sea Classics


THE KISSING SAILOR By Lawrence Verna & George Galdorisi 224 Pgs., Illustrated, 6-in x 9-in, Hardback, ISBN# 978-1-61251-0778-1 -$23.95. US Naval Institute Press, 1-800-233-8764; www.usni.org

Here's an interesting bon mot that simply oozes charm and misty nostalgia on every page. Anyone who has any interest in World War II well remembers the classic LIFE magazine cover by Alfred Eisenstaedt that so eloquently depicted the exuberance in New York City's Times Square over the announcement that WWII had ended with Japan's unconditional surrender.

The candid photo of the exuberant sailor impulsively kissing a young nurse was the grand example of a picture telling a thousand words, for that single image captured all the emotion, strain, longing, hardship, sacrifice, love, hope, and pathos of a determined nation drained by fouryears of brutal global war. Since everyone connected with that picture were strangers to each other, no one knew anything about the sailor or the nurse, who they were, where they lived, or if, in the romantic spirit of the day, they lived happily ever after.

Even LIFE staff photographer Eisenstaedt had no idea of the identity of his subjects for being in a public place during a near riotous exhibition of national joy during a major news event, he did not have to procure signed model releases or need their permission to publish what became an iconic masterpiece of photojournalism second only to Joe Rosenthal's Marines raising the American flag atop Iwo Jima months earlier. …

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