Kissing the War Goodbye – With a Little Help from the White House
On Sunday, August 14, 2016, Michigan residents were welcomed with a letter from President Obama as they celebrated “Spirit of ’45″ day and marked the 71st anniversary of the end of WWII in Memorial Park, Royal Oak, Michigan. They gathered in the shadow of Seward Johnson’s ”Embracing Peace.” This massive 25′ sculpture is a rendition of the famous kiss in Times Square, New York between a sailor and a woman in a nurse’s uniform which also occurred 71 years ago.
WWII veterans were honored guests. Couples in the crowd, many in period costume, recreated the famous moment as onlookers cheered. Re-enactors and “tribute” Rosie the Riveters contributed to the festive atmosphere. Recorded 40s era music was provided by the Ron Kishuck and the Master’s of Music big band in a preview of their appearance at The Victory Gala on October 13.
Before the actual kiss recreation, the crowd gathered for a short program hosted by board member Big Al Muskovitz and Vice President Russell Levine to mark the occasion. To start the program, it was our privilege to publicly thank Jack and Annette Aronson of Clean Planet Foods for contributing the funds needed to bring Embracing Peace to Memorial Park.
Many surprises followed.
State Senator Marty Knollenberg read a portion of a Special Tribute from the state of Michigan.
There was a huge roar when Mary Orloswki was introduced. Mary was in Times Square on August 14, 1945, VJ-Day, the day the kiss occurred. She said there was so much hugging and kissing going on that the nurse in the picture might as well have been her. Click here to see an interview with Mary.
The highlight of the program however was when Royal Oak Mayor Jim Ellison read a welcome message to the crowd from President Barack Obama. Click here to hear a recording of this message. Click here see a copy of the letter.
Click here to see the special certificates of participation all attendees received.
Click here to see more pictures of the event
Click here for overhead video footage courtesy of Steve Carr.
Click here to learn more about the installation of Embracing Peace.
Click here to see the media coverage for this event.
Many people came together to help bring the statue to Memorial Park and make this moment possible. Click here to learn about them.
Special thanks to Richard Wilson and WROK for producing the special broadcast of this event, which includes dramatic footage of the installation of Embracing Peace on June 20, 2016.
Photo credits: Embracing Peace by Seward Johnson © 2004, 2005 The Seward Johnson Atelier, Inc. sewardjohnsonatelier.org, Photos by Debi Hollis and Herbert Morrison.