The iconic photo of a sailor spontaneously kissing a beautiful young nurse in Times Square on V-J Day in 1945 is perhaps the most famous World World II picture taken by Life Magazine photographer, Alfred Eisenstaedt.
Glenn McDuffie laid claim as the man in the photo, along with several others, but since Eisenstaedt died in 1995, he was not able to identify the man he photographed. McDuffie”s claim, however, was supported by Lois Gibson, a forensics artist for the Houston Police Department. Gibson measured McDuffie”s ears, hairline, facial bones, wrists, knuckles, and hands and compared them to enlargements of the famous Eisenstaedt photograph. Gibson also analyzed pictures of the other claimants, and reported that the other men”s facial bones and other features did not match those of the sailor in the photo.
In August 2007, McDuffie said he had passed five polygraph tests confirming his claim, and on his 81st birthday, he was recognized as the “Kissing Sailor” during the seventh-inning stretch Houston Atros vs. New York Mets game at Minute Maid Park.
McDuffie told the Associated Press that he was changing trains in New York when he heard the news of America”s World War II victory over Japan, and that his brother would be coming home from a Japanese prison camp. He related that ran into the street hollering, laughing, and dancing, and that when the nurse in the photo saw him and smiled, he just went over to her and kissed her.
“We never spoke a word,” he said. “Afterward, I just went on the Subway across the street and went to Brooklyn.”
McDuffie spent three years as a Navy gunner, and later played semi-professional baseball and worked for the US Postal Service. He died of natural causes on March 9, 2014 at the age of 86.
For many Americans, the photo of a jubilant sailor planting a smooch on a pretty nurse stands as a portrait of all that is good in our country. When we gaze at the picture, we are transported to a by-gone era of impetuous kisses, simple joys, and young love. RIP, Glenn McDuffie, we are the land of the free, because you were the brave.