NEW YORK (AP) – The 60th anniversary of the end of World War II was marked on Sunday like others before it – with patriotic anthems, a memorial wreath tossed into the Hudson River, a flyover by vintage aircraft and a swing band playing “In the Mood” and other 1940s favorites.

Present for the occasion were scores of World War II veterans, those octogenarians who are said to be dying at the rate of 1,000 a day. They included some who had served aboard the carrier USS Intrepid, which survived a Japanese torpedo and five kamikaze attacks, and is now in its second career as a popular museum.

Gen. Wesley Clark, who retired after serving as chief of NATO and later tried for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, credited the Americans and their allies in World War II for having “shaped the world as we know it.”

“Wars can be lost at the top, but they are won at the bottom, and these men and women are the ones who won it for us,” Clark said.

Actor Edward Hermann reprised two famous speeches that bookended the war – President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Dec. 8, 1941 “Day of Infamy” address, asking Congress to declare war on Japan, and Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s remarks closing the Japanese surrender ceremony aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945.

In Times Square, photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famed shot of a sailor kissing a nurse was recreated, with the same woman who was surprisingly smooched that day at age 27.

Now an 87-year-old great-grandmother, Edith Cullen Shain dressed up in a white nurse outfit like the one she was wearing Aug. 14, 1945, when Americans were so exuberant about the Allied victory that strangers embraced each other in the streets.

The identity of the sailor in the photograph remains a mystery – more than 20 men have come forward through the years claiming to be the kisser.

Among the veterans aboard the Intrepid Sunday, memories of the end of the war were understandably less vivid than the fighting at sea. Several had left the ship before August 1945, when the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki finally convinced Japan to give up.

Hector Giannasca, 80, of New Rochelle, N.Y., remembered celebrating “with a big party” in Daytona Beach, Fla. His friend John Bonomo, 80, of New York City, said he was in Jacksonville for the occasion, but doesn’t remember the details.

Ray Stone, 80, of South Salem, N.Y., was a radarman aboard Intrepid from the day it entered service in 1943 to Okinawa in 1945, and kept a diary that he later turned into a book, “My Ship! U.S.S. Intrepid.” His friend, Winston Goodloe, 83, a flight deck crew member from Albany, said the carrier was in the Yellow Sea as a “show of force” to impress the Russians when the war ended.

All of the veterans asked were blunt in their views that the atomic bomb was necessary and saved many lives, including Japanese, by forestalling the need for an Allied invasion of Japan.

“I am here today and all my buddies are here today because of it,” Stone said. “You have to have lived at that time to understand that.”


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