NEW YORK – With a countdown of "five, four, three, two, one, smooch," couples from across the world puckered up in Times Square on Friday to mark the 70th anniversary of the famous kiss celebrating the end of World War II.
A 25-foot sculpture depicting Alfred Eisenstaedt's photograph of a sailor kissing a white-uniformed nurse towered over the commemoration of V-J Day, when Japan's surrender to Allied forces was announced.
Ray and Ellie Williams, Navy veterans who married the day after V-J Day, kicked off the anniversary of the kiss Aug. 14, 1945.
"Ellie and I are deeply honored and privileged to represent the greatest generation here today," said Ray Williams, 91, of Blairsville, Georgia.
Williams remembered jubilation breaking out on V-J Day all over the country, including in Gainesville, Georgia, where he and his bride-to-be were stationed. "We were doubly excited about celebrating the end of the war and also our marriage," he said.
Roel van Dalen and Beatrijs Smulders, visitors from Amsterdam, said they were happy to take part in the commemoration.
"It's very beautiful to commemorate such an incredible event," van Dalen said. "Especially for us. We come from a country which was occupied by the Germans ... and we're still faced with all the horrifying stories of the war."
Smulders said she was struck by the image of the kiss.
"I think it's really a beautiful symbol of peace and love," she said. "I love these kinds of rituals."