Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Thank You, Alfred Eisenstadt

We all know that Japan finally capitulated to the combined might of the Allied forces in August 1945, 60 years ago. But less well known is the fact that 10 years ago today was the day that Alfred Eisenstadt died. Who was he? In short, a world-famous photographer for LIFE Magazine that captured one of the most iconic images of the 20th century. When it was announced to New York in mid-August 1945 that the Japanese had surrendered, the sailor in the accompanying picture grabbed a beautiful nurse standing nearby and kissed her out of sheer joy, probably palpable relief and in no small part calculated desire.

But the spontaneity of the moment still rings true today. As we continue to hear the echoes of that historic day 60 years on, it is important also to remember the sheer joy, happiness and promise that announcement brought. Let us also celebrate the unity and strength of purpose, the positive energy and the desire to build and re-build a shattered and spent world that came with V-J Day. Let us salute the veterans, but also remember the the builders that built the foundations of the current prosperity we enjoy, from all nations.

Just four years ago, on September 12, 2001, when the world reeled from the shock of the events in New York and Washington, and before divisive politics split the world, most of us that day had the briefest taste of what it must have felt like to have a global moment, albeit a much more tragic one, of shock, revulsion and sympathy.

Then, as now, the media were able to capture that moment in time, transfixing us, an awestruck public, with the profound image. Some of those images will doubtless remain seared into the collective memory for years to come. The image above has, sixty years on, proven itself timeless in its ability to insert the viewer into that day in Times Square, and immune to the relentless overexposure of the past six decades. Alfred Eisenstadt, the engineer and master of that image, has thereby in his own way proven himself a great historian. Thank you, Mr. Eisenstadt, for this beguiling, eternal doorway to your own time.

2 comments:

Lonnie said...

I never tire of this picture. have you read the interviews with them from just a few years back? Wonderful.

Patricia said...

I love his work. I have three photos of his, Jackie Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Einstein. I love them all. Do you know a good website for buying his work?