Greta Friedman with a copy of the photograph that defined her life.

71 years ago a kiss was captured on film. At the time no one knew it would become one of the most iconic photographs in American History. On August 14, 1945 an announcement was made that signalled the end of one of the most horrific periods in modern history. Japan surrenders unconditionally, marking the official end of World War 2. In Times Square cheers and laughter could be heard for miles, hugs were everywhere and at that moment a sailor grabs a young dental assistant and gives her a celebratory kiss. Standing nearby, camera in hand was the photographer, Alfred Eisenstadt, who immortalized that moment in silver. The picture ran in LIFE Magazine shortly thereafter and the rest is history.

Over the years many people came forward to claim to be the sailor and/or the nurse in the photograph. But there were two people, Greta Zimmer Friedman and George Mendonsa who were widely accepted as the kissing couple. Of course this isn’t without some controversy. Last year some astronomers, using the Manhattan Buildings as sundials, determined the time of day the photo was snapped; 5:51PM. Friedman and Mendonsa said the Kiss took place sometime around 2:00PM.

But, alas, I come to the point of this post, 92 year old Greta Z. Friedman passed away  in Richmond, Virginia this past weekend. Her’s was a life defined by that one moment and in death the photograph stand as a testament to her, to our History, to America.


Sequence of images taken by Alfred Eisenstadt on August 14, 1945


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