On August 14, 1945, the country found out that World War II had ended. People in Times Square celebrated like it was New Years Eve. A photographer working for Life magazine was snapping pictures of an event when he saw a sailor grab a young woman and kiss her in the street. The photo made the cover of the magazine on August 27, 1945. and has been made famous because of it. Now, a man from Houston, Texas is stepping forward to say that he was the man in the photo.

Glenn McDuffie is being supported by Lois Gibson, a forensic artist who has studied digital technology to determine that McDuffie’s claim is genuine. Photographer Alfried Eisenstaedt who took the famous picture, died in 1995 and took no notes that day to be able to confirm the sailor’s ambiguous identity nor the nurse who he kissed. Several men have claimed to be the sailor. One of them is George Mendonsa, an 82-year-old man born in Rhode Island to Portuguese immigrants. He enlisted in the navy in 1942 and witnessed kamikaze pilots crashing into the carrier Bunker Hill in May 1945 from the deck of The Sullivans, a destroyer named after five brothers who died in the war. The destroyer took the survivors of that attack to a hospital ship before going home to prepare for another mission Mendonsa spent his time at home helping his father when he met his the niece of his sister’s in-law, Rita Petry. He took Petry with him to New York City on a mini-vacation. On their last day in New York, it was announced that the war was over and celebration erupted in the streets. With a few drinks in him and the relief of not having to go back into battle, he instinctively grabbed a woman in a nurse’s uniform and kissed her just as Einstaedt captured the moment on camera.

When the issue of Life came out, Mendonsa recognized himself on the cover. He was later upset when he saw an ad in the magazine selling prints of the photo signed by the photographer for $16,000. He hired a lawyer and was given all six photos that Eisenstaedt had taken, though Life has never confirmed that the man in the photograph was Mendonsa nor anyone else who claimed to be the famous sailor. The prints were taken to a professor of photography at Yale University. Like, McDuffie, he wanted scientific evidence that he was the sailor. Special cameras took several angles of his face and head and then digitally took 60 years off of his features to look for similarities. Nomatter how much evidence is gotten, no one can ever really be sure who the man in the picture is. When it comes down to it, a picture that represented the “everyman” of that generation doesn’t really need to have an identity anyway.


For related articles visit http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,291047,00.html and http://www.americainwwii.com/stories/kissers.htm.

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