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. Personalized commemorative souvenir posters are available to families who send in photos to be included in this annual tribute to the love stories of WWII. For more information, contact Info@Spiritof45.org
"Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive!" invites families to send in wedding photos of couples who got together during the 1940's so that they can be included in the mosaic of the famous "Times Square Kiss" that is created each year to pay tribute to the men and women who came together to build a better world for themselves, their children and their children's children in the wake of the most destructive war in history.
An electronic version of the mosaic is displayed on the giant screens at Walgreens store in Times Square each year as part of its annual tribute to the men and women of America's Greatest Generation that takes place on the anniversary of their greatest day -- August 14, 1945, the day WWII ended and couples could begin their new lives together...
Send your couple's photo in digital form (300 DPI) to Couples@Spiritof45.org
Photos must be clearly labeled with the couple's names (last/first)
Posters of the mosaic are available after August 14, for a donation of $15 (standard version) or $45 (personalized version with couple's enlarged photo), plus shipping.
Marriage was important to the Greatest Generation. Marriage rates during WWII were 20% above pre-war levels. During the war more than a million and a quarter wives followed their military husbands around the country even though they could not always spend much time with them. WWII taught many men that they wanted a wife and children: in 1946, the marriage rate - and the birth rate! - jumped by almost 50%.
Stories of couples like Bill and Ima Jo Burgreen of Escondido, CA, who recently celebrated 75 years of marriage, are a reminder of how durable the bonds of love were for many members of the generation who had lived through the defining events of the last century.
Their memories of the day the war ended are precious reminders of a time when the words "community," "shared sacrifice," and "commitment to others" were the norm in American society.
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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 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!"
"Keep the Spirit of '45 Day Alive!" will be organizing annual celebrations in Times Square on August 14 each year, including a major celebration for the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII on August 14, 2015.
Prior to the press conference, the group assembled in front of a 6 ft version 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.