There are some that say that today we give away kisses so freely. I suppose in some ways "they" are right. Years ago hugs and kisses were reserved for family and very special friends. They had a deeper meaning than the sometimes superfical ones that we share today. In San Diego recently I came across the statue of "The Kiss". I had not been aware of this real life event before and I must admit that it touched me deeply and on many levels. It got me to thinking about my parents and the times in which they fell in love. In a time when men where hero's, fighting in wars and coming home with a warm welcome of thanks and pride. Today seemed like the perfect day to post this amazing statue that tells of the ending of World War 11.
“Unconditional Surrender,” a 25-foot, 6,000 pound statue by world-renowned artist J. Seward Johnson commemorating a famous World War II photo was unveiled Feb. 10 at Mole Park in San Diego. Unconditional Surrender is a three-dimensional interpretation of a photo taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt of a Sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square, New York City on Aug. 14, 1945, following the announcement of V-J Day.Edith Shain, the nurse memorialized in Eisenstaedt’s photo, and members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association Inc., attended the ceremony along with hundreds of San Diego residents.“This statue brings back so many memories of peace, love and happiness,” said Shain. “There is so much romance in the statue; it gives such a feeling of hope to all who look at it.”“During the moment of the kiss I don’t remember much, it happened so fast and it happened at the perfect time. I didn’t even look at the Sailor who was kissing me,” Shain continued. “I closed my eyes and enjoyed the moment like any woman would have done.” Sailors attending the ceremony had the opportunity to meet the woman pictured in the photograph famous throughout the Navy community, and the world.“This sculpture represents hope and freedom,” said Quartermaster Seaman Hannah R. Salyer, PCU Green Bay (LPD-20).
Today also seems like the perfect day to share the story of my Mom and Dad and how those days must have been for them. My mom was never a big talker so when I saw this "Kiss" I started thinking of their early days together. After much thought I came to the conclusion that my Mom and Dad must have felt exactly like this couple at this very time.
When I got home from San Diego I remembered a small photo that I had of my parents marriage. It kept nagging at me as I tried to put together the dates of that statue. Finally I was able to find the photo. It was taken in Seattle Washington in March of 1945...My Dad had marked the back of the photo. It was a photo of my Dad in his Navy uniform, with my Mom standing next to him, outside of St. Benedict's church. They had just gotten married. You see, my Mom, went by herself, to meet my Dad who was stationed in Seattle Washington. She was 18 years old, not a traveler, and I'm sure she had a limited income. This was 5 months before World War 11 ended. How in love they must have been for her to make such a long journey, at such a young age, alone and in a time of war. The reason for the journey, most likely by train, all the way across the country, was because they eloped. It's an amazing journey in so many ways. I wish that they could have shared that time with us. In the yesteryears of my life we did not get to hear of that trip. Love was private and so were the stories.
As I look back, knowing more about how it might have been, I am amazed at my Mom's courage to make that trip. I know it could not have been easy for her. My Grandmother ruled with an iron hand and I'm sure she must not have been happy about my Mom's going. A young woman alone, on a train full of who know's what kind of people, well shame on you is what I hear. My Mom was beautiful her entire life and I'm sure that was also another concern while traveling in war time. Those trains could be full of service men just waiting for a young pretty lady. Then money, where would she get the money, not from my Grandmother or Grandfather for sure. They would have held back thinking she couldn't come up with the funds so then she wouldn't be able to go. Way back then my Mom knew what she wanted and she went and got it. I wish we had shared her journey. In the end though the journey speaks for itself doesn't it. Love conquers all.
Memorial Day is a day to honor all the men and women who have died for our freedom, for our country. I have always been proud of my Dad for serving his entire life. He went in as a young man, probably 17 years old. Tried other jobs along the way but always before his time-lapsed he would re-up and go off again. My Mom's one brave trip to marry him was all she took. We were a military family but not a traveling family. That can create problems in a marriage and ultimately my parents divorced. I am sure though that in 1945 when a young girl traveled across American to seek her love, her Navy man, that the kiss they shared upon arrival was as passionate and loving as the one in the statue. My brother was born 10 months later in December 1945. War would not keep them apart. In the end, life did. In my heart though, I know that with all the pain and suffering that went on at home during my growing up years, my parents loved each other their entire life. I think we all have one great love and no matter where life takes us the memory of that Kiss stays with us forever.
To all who fought the good fight of Love and War...Happy Memorial Day.