2016 ~ January 23
President Truman was declaring the end of the four year world war as Glenn McDuffie, in his naval uniform, stepped from a subway on Times Square in New York City. He grabbed a passing nurse and planted a kiss on her lips, not knowing that photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt was capturing his impulsive act on film. That day in 1945 became known as V-J Day (victory over Japan) and the photo became known as the V-J Kiss. For years McDuffie told anyone who would listen that he was the sailor in the photo.
Fifty years later when the world was to again celebrate the end of World War II, a former nurse came forward to declare that she was the target in the famous photo. The photographer had not recorded their names for he was intent on capturing responses to the announcement. After years of claiming his role in the photo, Glenn McDuffie set out to prove it. With assistance from a police sketch artist, he could claim himself the sailor. The artist became convinced because McDuffie’s ear matched that of the sailor in the famous photo. She claimed that the ear is the most complicated feature on our head. Glenn lived to the age of eighty-six, believing that he had proven his place in history.
The McDuffie story, and the stories I heard about my cousin’s experience immediately following the end of the war when he was sent to Nuremberg, planted the seed that grew to become my historical novel BIG WAR Little Wars. In time, the book sent off its own shoots to inspire the essay The Kiss That Launched A Novel which the Military Writers Society of America published in their 2015 anthology.