Walgreens honors the WWII generation on the anniversary of their greatest day with a special message in the form of a collage of the "Kiss" photo that shows all day on all of its jumbo screens at its Times Square store.
Each year, Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive organizes a media event in Times Square on August 14 to sum up the events and activities that have taken place throughout the country on Spirit of '45 Day weekend. The first of these events in 2010, the year Congress voted unanimously in favor of Spirit of '45 Day, the Sculpture Foundation collaborated with the Times Square Alliance and the United War Veterans Council of New York County to hold a major public event that featured the 26 ft version of Seward Johnson's sculpture depicting the famous "Times Square Kiss."
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Walgreens has had a store in Times Square since the 1920's. It's store sign can be clearly seen over the left shoulder of the sailor in the famous photo taken by Navy photojournalist Victor Jorgenson on August 14, 1945.
Walgreens also has its own special Greatest Generation story: as part of its long tradition of providing job opportunities to returning veterans, the company's Chicago store hired a Coast Guard veteran named Fred Canning in 1946. Canning, whose first job was stacking shelves, rose rapidly through the ranks of the Walgreens organization, and led the company's successful expansion as its president and COO from 1978 to his retirement in 1990.
In addition to the annual "signature" project at Times Square in August, Walgreens stores in other parts of the country have been donating photo posters, water and other items to help support Spirit of '45 Day events and activities.
During the 2012 press conference held in front of the Walgreens Time Square store, Jerry Telson, District Manager for New York City operations, received a Spirit of '45 National Leaders Medal in recognition of his company's support for the observance of National Spirit of '45 Day.
The Medal was presented by National Spirit of '45 Day spokesman Dr. Roscoe Brown, and Joy Beebe, a British WWII war bride from Salem, OR, whose wedding photos was included among the hundreds in the "Kiss" mosaic. Ms. Beebe also participated in the "Wall of Honor" ceremony in Washington, D.C. which included her husband's photo. She and her daughters, Barbara and Vivian have been instrumental in helping the WWII War Brides Association play a leading role in publicizing the WWII Couples project.
Following the press conference, Walgreen's management and staff invited the group to a "wrap party" to enjoy some refreshments and pose for photos with the Kiss mosaic.
"What a day!" said Frank Caldwell, who served in the Pacific. "This is like a dream come true -- celebrating the day we learned we could all go home-- and in Times Square!"
Prior to the press conference, the group assembled in front of a life sized edition of artist Seward Johnson's famous sculpture depicting the "Kiss" that was placed in Time Square's Duffy Plaza by the Sculpture Foundation to commemorate the Day.
Joy Beebe and her daughter, Barbara, in Times Square with photos of Joy's husband Carl during the August 14, 2012 event hosted by Walgreens.