Iconic kiss

George Mendonsa, a 92-year-old veteran from Rhode Island, says he’s sure it’s him

When Alfred Eisenstaedt took a picture of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square on V-J Day, on Aug. 14, 1945, he knew he’d captured something special. But he likely didn’t realize that the photo would become one of the most iconic images of the 20th century—and one of its most enduring mysteries.

Though the identities of the sailor and nurse have never been confirmed, George Mendonsa, a 92-year-old veteran and retired fisherman, has no doubt the man in the photo is him. “I haven’t found a person yet that I haven’t convinced,” he told CNN, explaining that his large hands, a scar on his brow and his distinct memory of that moment are confirmation enough for him.

Extract from the Aug. 27, 1945, issue of LIFE. “In the middle of New York’s Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers.

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