V-J Day by Victor Jorgensen, 1945

After four years of blackout, all the lights in Time Square went on as Mayor LaGuardia announced the Japanese surrender on August 14, 1945. In a celebration mirrored around the world, the New Yorkers took to the Square to celebrate a new era of peace, and hope.

Alfred Eisenstaedt made a famous picture of an unknown couple kissing. It was neither a highly anticipated embrace by long-lost lovers, nor it also was staged, as many critics have claimed.

In the October 1980 issue, in a spread entitled “Who Is the Kissing Sailor?” the LIFE editors reported that eleven men and three women had come forward claiming to be the subjects of the photograph.

Victor Jorgensen, a photojournalist working for the U.S. Navy, captured the scene from another angle. Jorgensen titled his photograph Kissing the War Goodbye, and it has less of Times Square in the background. The photo had few details of the subjects, but showed the powerful headlock the sailor had on the nurse. This photo was published in The New York Times the following day.

Unlike the Eisenstaedt photograph, the Navy photograph is in the public domain because it was produced by a federal government employee on official duty.

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