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Pucker Up! Hundreds Kiss to Honor End of WWII

Updated at 10:23 p.m. ET

Hundreds of couples donned sailor's hats and nurse's caps and smooched in Times Square on Saturday to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Sunday is V-J Day, the day the fighting between Allied forces and Japan ended. Japan didn't officially surrender until Sept. 2, 1945.

The couples were re-enacting the famous Life magazine photograph of a nurse being passionately kissed by a sailor at the end of the war. A 26-foot statue replicating the original photo was also erected for the celebration.

World War II veterans and their children on hand for the kiss said they want today's generation to remember the sacrifices of those who fought in the war.

"I want to keep that day alive," said Rocco Moretto, 86, a retired infantry staff sergeant now living in Queens.

Moretto, who stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day and arrived in Times Square in his uniform, kissed his friend Margie Zwick, who served in the Women's Army Corps.

"It was terrific," he said of the kiss. "It's been a long time coming."

Edith Shain, who said she was the nurse in the original photo, died in June at the age of 91.

The Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive! grass roots campaign was holding a series of events around the country marking the day.

Congress passed a resolution last month saying the second Sunday in August will be known as "Spirit of '45 Day" in commemoration of the war's end.

In New Orleans, the National World War II Museum staged a kissing contest to mark the anniversary.

The picture by Alfred Eisenstaedt ran on the cover of Life magazine and embodied the feeling the news of the end of the war inspired.

"It was a great thing," said Sumner Shumway, 87, of Strasbourg, Pa., who was on the USS Bon Homme Richard off the coast of Japan when the surrender occurred. "It was a long war and everyone was so happy to see it end."

Shumway was making his first visit to the World War II museum, and pronounced the kissing contest a happy way to remember that day.

The Eisenstaedt picture provided a backdrop for the New Orleans contestants, who one after another took stage center, to reproduce the scene, with the woman being bent backward for an impassioned kiss.

Although part of the winning criteria was based on costume, only one couple showed up in World War II dress, and that was not the sailor's uniform and nurse's uniform seen in the picture.

David Butler, 27, of Houston and a World War II re-enactor, wore a reproduction of an Army uniform from that era. His wife, Holland, 25, wore a reproduction of a 1940's dress in red, white and blue.

"We love doing World War II re-enacting and we love kissing," David Butler said. "So this was the perfect contest for us."

The couple took the top prize, a bottle of Champaign and tickets to the museum.

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