Spirit of '45 70th Anniversary
begins with a thousand kisses in
New York's Times Square
The 2015 Spirit of '45 WWII 70th Anniversary Commemoration Weekend kicked off with a press announcement in Times Square at noon on Friday, August 14, followed by a mass re-enactment of the famous kiss that became the symbol of hope, love and freedom around the world - and the Spirit of '45!
Special thanks to Ray and Ellie Williams for all they did to make the Spirit of '45 Day events in New York City such an outstanding success. Happy Anniversary!!
Couples kiss in Times Square (China News)
Couples Reenact famous Kiss in Times Square (Wall Street Journal video)
Couples gather to mark 70th anniversary of the end of WWII (Times Picayun)
ABC Eyewitness News coverage
Boston Globe coverage
WWII Navy veterans Ray and Ellie Williams of Blairsville, GA, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on August 15, represented the men and women of America's "Greatest Generation" at the Times Square kick off event.
Ray served aboard USS Cowpens, CVL-25, a light aircraft carrier that earned 12 battle stars during WWII. The "Mighty Moo" was the first American carrier to enter Tokyo Harbor and its crew were the first to set foot on the Japanese mainland. Ellie served as a WAVE during the war, receiving her basic training at Hunter College, NYC.
Before the press conference, the Williams posed for photos under Walgreens giant screens as the 2015 edition of the annual "WWII Couples" video featuring their wedding photo played overhead. They were joined by Walgreen employees who handed out gift bags to the crowd and posted for photos with "National Athem Girl" Janine Strange, Dani Masterson (Bugles Across America), Ray and Ellie, Gotta Swing Dancers Theresa Werner and James MartinPaula Stoeke (Seward Johnson Atlelier), Donna Herbst (Atria Senior Living), and Val Pfundstein (Cradle of Aviation).
The video mosaic is made up of more than a thousand photographs of couples like Ray and Ellie who married during the '40's and is displayed on Walgreens jumbo screens throughout the day on August 14 as a congratulatory message to the Greatest Generation on the anniversary of their greatest day.
Kick off announcements will be made simultaneously in front of the monumental "Kiss" sculptures in at noon in Sarasota, FL and in San Diego, CA at 9 a.m. PST, and at 2:00 p.m. at the Battleship Iowa in San Pedro, CA.
On Sunday, August 16, the Williams laid a wreath at the East Coast World War II Memorial in Battery Park in Lower Manhattan to honor FDR and the 16 million Americans who served in the war, as buglers sound "Taps" to conclude the Weekend and signal the beginning of the cross country Tribute that ended in Hawaii later that day.
Click here for stories of August 14, 1945