Remember the photo on the right? Sure you do, we’ve all seen it dozens of times. It was taken by the great Alfred Eisenstaedt on August 15, 1945 — VJ Day — in Times Square, and it captures, as Emma Brown put it in today’s Washington Post, “the relief, euphoria and optimism that Americans felt at the end of a horrible conflict.”
It’s not known just who the sailor was, but the identity of the nurse he’s smooching so enthusiastically was established some years. It was Edith Shain, who died, aged 91, on Sunday, as announced on her web site.
Other women claimed to be the nurse over the years, but Eisenstaedt flew to California in 1979 to meet with Ms. Shain, and after one look at her legs, he said she was the one.
Life.com, the web site for the magazine’s photo archive, released a statement saying, “While Life magazine itself never officially endorsed any of the claims by any of the men or women who came forward saying that they were the sailor or the nurse in the photograph, Shain’s claim is the one that, over the years, has held up best and has been most widely accepted (and most often celebrated).”
Shain, who worked enthusiastically on behalf of veterans’ causes in the years after she’d become widely accepted as the authentic recipient of that famous celebratory buss, is survived by three sons, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.