World War II veteran George Mendonsa, of Rhode Island, claims he's the sailor in the iconic 1945 Life Magazine photo of a couple smooching in Times Square. On August 14, 1945, he was on a date in Manhattan with his future wife Rita, when a clamoring crowd outside Radio City Music Hall interrupted the matinee show, pounding on the doors. When the lights came on, shouts of "The war is over!" echoed through the music hall. Theatergoers poured into the streets, now filled with thousands of revellers. "The booze was flying and I popped quite a few," says Mendonsa. "The bartender was filling glasses up and sliding them back and forth... We're all drinking and raising hell." They left the bar and trailed the throngs to Times Square. "I saw this nurse coming down," Mendonsa remembers. "The war is over... and when I see the nurse, I grabbed her. A lot of people say, 'Well, you grabbed the nurse and you're with a date.' I say, 'For Chrissake, the war is over!' I remembered what those nurses did out there.'''
That day, Rita watched as her date and future husband planted a kiss on the mouth of a stranger.
"I was in the background, grinning like a mutt. It didn't matter to me."
And it really didn't: The couple will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary in October 2016.