JSA English 103
2 May 2012
A Meaningful Kiss
It was a kiss that ended a dreadful war and created a new country with many optimistic hopes and dreams. This picture captures the enthusiasm in New York City on August fourteenth as the proclamation of the end of World War II was made public, giving citizens the prospect of a violence-free country and excitement as they realized their fathers, sons, husbands, grandfathers and uncles would soon be coming home. The Decisive Moment was a photograph taken in Times Square following the announcement that Japan had surrendered after being bombed and World War II was now over; it marked a new beginning for The United States of America but also symbolized hatred towards America from Japan.
After six years of being at war, the end of World War II seemed almost unrealistic. World War II began in 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland and France, and Britain declared war on Germany. The United States was forcedly thrust into the war when Japan attacked in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. At first, the public was unsure of the idea of the United States joining the Second World War. Opinions changed after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and killed over 2,300 troops at the Hawaii naval base. “At the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, there were 96 ships anchored. During the attack, 18 were sunk or seriously damaged, including eight battleships. There were 2,402 American men killed and 1,280 injured. Three hundred and fifty aircraft were destroyed or damaged” (“Ships and Aircraft”).
The first atomic bomb the world had ever seen was dropped on the city of Hiroshima, Japan on the day of August 6, 1945. 15,000 tons of dynamite, called “Tall Boy” killed an estimated number of 90,000 to 166,000 people and destroyed 4.7 square miles. On August 9, 1945, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. “Fat Man,” which was 21,000 tons of dynamite killed an estimated number between 60,000 and 80,000 and destroyed 1.8 square miles (“Bombs Fall”). The goal was to defeat the Japanese without having to invade their country, which would result in many more casualties from both countries. “If it became necessary to drop a third atom bomb on Japan, the city that would have been the target was Tokyo” (Ambrose). “Long after the war, Truman told INS correspondent Robert Nixon that the decision to use the atomic bomb was made to preclude a bloody invasion and to save one million American lives” (John Ray Skates). While this bombing was harsh, it was also necessary if the world wanted the frightful war to come to an end. The rebuilding of Japan took up to fifteen years (“Rebuilding Japan ”).
The day of the official end to World War II, people gathered around in every city to join together as one country and celebrate. Alfred Eisenstaedt, a famous black and white photographer, happened to catch a glimpse of something white in his eye. "In Times Square on V.J. Day, I saw a sailor running along the street grabbing every girl in sight. I was running ahead of him with my Leica looking back over my shoulder. Then suddenly, in a flash, I saw something white being grabbed. I turned around and clicked the moment the sailor kissed the nurse...I took exactly four pictures. It was done within a few seconds" (“Alfred Eisenstaedt”). He captured the famous kiss, which would be known for many years as The Decisive Moment.
Most Americans were happy with America’s victory while in contrast, some realized that we would still have problems in the future. With Russia continuing to be