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A Kiss, a Photo, a Statue and a Memory

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Edith Shain poses next to statue based on photo of a sailor kissing Swain on V-J Day, 1945. i

Edith Shain, 86, poses next to Seward Johnson's sculpture "Unconditional Surrender." It's a tribute to the famous photo of Shain being kissed by a sailor on V-J Day, Aug. 14, 1945. Reuters hide caption

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Edith Shain poses next to statue based on photo of a sailor kissing Swain on V-J Day, 1945.

Edith Shain, 86, poses next to Seward Johnson's sculpture "Unconditional Surrender." It's a tribute to the famous photo of Shain being kissed by a sailor on V-J Day, Aug. 14, 1945.

Reuters

New York has unveiled a life-sized statue in Times Square, based on a famous Life magazine photo of New Yorkers celebrating the end of the war with Japan on Aug. 14, 1945. Edith Shain, the woman in the photo, was on hand for the unveiling.

JENNIFER LUDDEN, host:

Sixty years ago tomorrow, pandemonium swept America. The war with Japan was over.

Ms. EDITH SHAIN: People were wild: hugging, kissing and shouting. I mean, why not?

LUDDEN: Eighty-seven-year-old Edith Shain's celebratory kiss stands out from all the rest. It was captured in black and white. You've probably seen the photo. Shain stands in Times Square, swooning in the arms of a young sailor who's holding her gracefully by the waist. This week, Shain was back in Times Square where she met with reporters at the unveiling of a life-size, lifelike statue of that embrace. Edith Shain says she had no idea photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt was taking her picture.

Ms. SHAIN: I was working part-time at Doctor's Hospital and going to New York University. Somebody grabbed me, and kissed me, and held me for quite a while--and somebody's tried to estimate how long it was; I don't know, seven or eight seconds--and then let me go, and I went one way, and he went another. I don't know who he is. It was in Life magazine the week after, and I saw my photograph there, but I didn't tell anybody. I was embarrassed. But I never told anybody until 1980. I wasn't moved by it. I thought it was a nice photograph and that, you know, it was just a photograph.

LUDDEN: Edith Shain spoke with producer Kathleen Horan of member station WNYC.

And lovers in New York, you may want to head to Times Square tomorrow. There will be a kiss-in to mark the anniversary of VJ Day.

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