USS Missouri invites public to ‘plant one on” to honor WWII vets

Hawaii Independent Staff

PEARL HARBOR — Coinciding with the arrival of a lifescale, bronze sculpture depicting a famous World War II kiss, the Battleship Missouri Memorial is inviting visiting couples to “plant one on” for an opportunity to win a return trip to the Hawaiian Islands.

The Battleship Missouri Memorial this week launched its “Victory Kiss Contest,” in which couples reenacting photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt’s WWII Times Square picture of a Navy sailor kissing a young nurse can enter to win the getaway, including roundtrip airfare on Hawaiian Airlines to or from one of its U.S. Mainland gateway cities and a two-night stay at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and Spa. The contest runs through Oct. 30.

With the nearby sculpture, couples will have an outstanding example to guide their reenactments. The 6-foot piece, titled “Unconditional Surrender,” was created by Seward Johnson, artist and son of the founder of Johnson and Johnson. It is touring the country as part of the “Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive!” initiative, a nationwide, grassroots effort to establish an annual day to honor the achievements of America’s WWII generation so that their courage, self-sacrifice and service will continue to inspire future generations of Americans.

Photos of the visitor reenactments will be posted on the Battleship Missouri Memorial Facebook page, where 10 finalists will be chosen on Nov. 7 based on the most “likes” they receive. From the resulting 10 finalist couples, the grand prize winner and runner-up winners will be randomly selected. The grand prize winner will be announced on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. Runner-up prizes will include credit with the Battleship Missouri Memorial’s online Victory Store. All finalists will receive two movie vouchers to see Universal Picture’s Battleship, premiering in May 2012.

“World War II may have formally ended on the USS Missouri with the signing of Japan’s surrender, but another iconic moment occurred weeks earlier when peace was sealed with a kiss in Times Square,” said Michael A. Carr, Missouri’s president and chief operating officer. “When Japan first announced its surrender on Aug. 14 — Aug. 15, Japan time — people from all over the world broke into spontaneous celebration, including a certain uninhibited Navy sailor and a young nurse. That photo went on to become one of the most famous photographs ever taken.”