VJ Day Kiss Nurse Dies at 91

By R. Stickney
|  Thursday, Jun 24, 2010  |  Updated 2:39 PM PDT
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VJ  Day Kiss Nurse Dies at 91

Chuck Lapinsky

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In the moment of an unexpected kiss, Edith Shain turned into an icon of victory.

The nurse captured on film in the infamous Victory Day kiss, Shain passed away Sunday at her Los Angeles home at the age of 91. Photographer Alfred Eisnstadt, the man who captured the image, formally identified Shain as the nurse in the picture. The sailor has never been identified.

For residents and tourists, there’s a reminder of the Times Square kiss in the form of a 25 ft tall sculpture placed next to the Midway Museum on the Embarcadero in downtown San Diego.

Photographs captured Shain’s visit during the sculpture’s installation in February 2007.

Vivacious even then at 88, Shain signed autographs and danced with Pearl Harbor survivors to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” at a large reception on the carrier-turned-museum.

“I was so surprised at how energetic she was, how sharp she was still,” said Amy Blank with The Sculpture Foundation, the organization that installed the statue of The Kiss.

“She was such a treat,” said Blank. “Everyone in the office loved her.”

Tourists visiting the statue Thursday noticed a flower left at the nurses' foot and talked of Shain and the image that grew to symbolize the end of the war.

For Rob McKinley, the statue is for him a direct symbol of his dad’s service in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Charlie Weaver a Navy veteran of Albuquerque, NM said it was a sad day for those who remember the WWII era.

While a New York firefighter who identified himself as Frank said Shain’s death is a sad loss for American history. The statue of The Kiss reminded him of soldiers returning from war and returning to their families and loved ones.

The “Greatest Generation” has lost another voice, said the foundation’s director Paula Stoeke. “And we will miss her.”

Shain moved to California after World War II and continued nursing but also taught kindergarten in Los Angeles for 30 years.

Robert Shain says his mother appeared in Memorial Day parades around the country and also made a point of teaching youngsters about the war.
 

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