Iconic WWII painting unveiled at Battleship Cove
FALL RIVER, Mass. (WHDH) -- On Saturday at Battleship Cove the painting "Victory Kiss" was unveiled.
Commissioned by aviation art collector Eugene Eisenburg, the painting is based on the photo of Rhode Island sailor George Mendonsa kissing a nurse in Times Square at the end of World War II. Mendonsa had been at Radio City Music Hall.
"So they stopped the show and they said we're putting the lights on, stopped the show, the war is over,” Mendonsa said.
Now 90 years young, he remembers it vividly. He said it was wild in the streets, everyone celebrating. He remembered months earlier in the Pacific, before he came home, nurses on board a hospital ship helping wounded sailors.
"I honestly believe if that girl did not have a nurse's uniform on, that I wouldn't have done that kiss,” Mendonsa said.
A kiss that's now symbolic of the end of World War II and that was the subject of debate for years over who the soldier was.
Author Lawrence Verria, of North Kingstown, Rhode Island, wrote the book "The Kissing Sailor."
"The fact we were able to make sure in his lifetime, he gets the recognition he deserves, is the purpose of the book,” Verria said. “And the fact that that's happening makes it all worthwhile."
Saturday's unveiling was part of navy day at Battleship Cove which included a poignant POW-MIA table ceremony.
A black napkin, inverted glass among the symbols to represent those who are no longer here.
A weekend to remember service, sacrifice and that despite the joy represented in this iconic kiss, there were many who never came home.